Hopkinton’s select board urged to commit to waste reduction

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 08-15-2023 5:40 PM

Efforts to produce less waste in Hopkinton, including a public commitment to waste reduction, aren’t proceeding as some had hoped.

At Monday’s select board meeting, Bonnie Christie, the chair of the Waste Reduction Committee, expressed a sense of stagnation within the committee’s efforts.

“It occurred to us that we haven’t heard a commitment from the town or the select board to actually reducing our waste volumes,” Christie said, frustrated with the lack of tangible results and emphasizing the importance of collective responsibility. “We can offer the messaging and education but we need some sort of green light for what direction you’re going in.”

The call to action came at a time when the Waste Reduction Committee is exploring various strategies to implement composting practices to save the town money by diverting waste away from landfills. 

Earlier discussions had centered around a potential contract with Renewal Garden and Compost, a compost pick-up service utilized by neighboring towns such as Bow and New London.

However, due to financial considerations, both the select board and the waste reduction committee dismissed this option as unsuitable for Hopkinton.

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In Bow, the monthly cost for compost collection with the company is $104. But the same service in Hopkinton is much higher at $688.

In light of these cost disparities, Christie introduced an alternative way to compost. She recommended on-site composting at the town’s transfer station. This solution was projected to be more cost-effective for the community and would impose minimal strain on the transfer station’s staff.

However, when posed with the possibility of on-site composting, select board members expressed their reservations.

Steven Whitley said that the board cannot consent to something blindly without knowing its consequences and the required financial investment.

“We are not going to give you a blanket commitment without knowing because I don’t think we’re doing a job for all the residents in town by doing that,” said Whitley.

The next steps for the Waste Reduction Committee involve formulating a comprehensive plan that addresses staffing, equipment needs, and the space required at the transfer station.

“I don’t want you to walk out saying we’re not committed because I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of what’s going on here,” select board chair Sabrina Dunlap said, requesting specific details to help in the budgeting process. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to say yes to everything. It means that we have to go through this process.”

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