Cardboard Drop-Off Fee Could Be Coming To Belmont, Just Not Now

Photo: Questions to the DPW concerning cardboard collection spike during the holidays

Will Belmont residents have to pay to get rid of the glut of cardboard coming their way this holiday?

That was the suggestion from the Department of Public Works as it came before the Select Board on Monday, Nov. 9, to discuss setting dates for the annual holiday season collection of cardboard by the town’s Department of Public Works.

Saying the subject of cardboard produces the largest number of calls to his department, DPW Director Jay Marcotte said the town is scheduling a handful of cardboard events in the next few months to collect the excessive amount of corrugated material many residents collect especially during the holiday season.

(Cardboard drop offs is a relatively new event, starting after the introduction of automated trash pickup in 2018 when residents discovered they “had no space in their new recycling bin” to place the excessive amount of cardboard they were acculating, said Marcotte.)

And if past events are the norm, Public Works is expecting upwards of 300 hundred vehicles jam packed with cardboard along Waverley Street and C Street attempting to enter the DPW Yard originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5.

But as Select Board Chair Roy Epstein said during Marcotte’s presentation before the board there is “a new wrinkle” to upcoming events: a fee.

The call for a “pay as you throw” scheme for cardboard stems from this spring when the town froze overtime spending due to the reduction of town revenues associated with COVID-19 pandemic.

Marcotte said cardboard can’t stake itself in the five truck-sized containers ready to be filled. The DPW needs a crew.

“We usually have one foreman with three to four workers along with one of the administrative assistants working between five to eight hours,” he said. Add to that expense the likely need for a police detail – yes, cardboard drop-off is like holding a rock concert in Belmont – due to the expected overflow of participants for the upcoming event.

“I’m anticipating that high number for this event because we did not have any drop offs during the spring. Usually by now we would have had two to three events,” said Marcotte. After speaking with the town’s Health Department, the DPW will need additional staff to take down contract tracing information due to the pandemic.

By the end of the day, such an event is expected to cost the DPW up to $2,400 for a Saturday event running from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Without overtime, “this will have to be a self-sustaining event, said Epstein. The cardboard will bring in $400 so the net expense to the town will be in the order of $2,000. A quick back of the envelope calculation came out to approximately $8 to $9.

The initial plan was for residents wanting to drop-off cardboard to head over to the Recreation Department page on the town’s web site to sign up with their contact info and prepay the fee as the event will be cash-free due to COVID-19 and just the ease of making everyone pay online.

“That will probably be the biggest hurdle, getting the documentation,” said Marcotte.

But the fee proposal quickly earned pushback from Board Member Tom Caputo. “I get the principle when it relates to overtime but I also wonder if we are … creating a great deal of resident frustration,” Caputo asked. By forcing the public to pony up for a previously free service on top of requiring them to use a new payment system in the knowledge that many will show up having not paid the new fee “[i]s going to generate a great deal of ill-will,” he said.

A compromise, suggested Caputo, would be to hold the event on a weekday and thus taking overtime out of the equation, a solution fellow board member Adam Dash was amenable to try.

“The whole cost of $2,352 … is such small money that your going to get $2,300 worth of trouble charging $5 or $10 for this,” said Dash, saying that many residents will note the town passed an override a quarter century ago to establish free curbside pickup.

“I’m not happy taking $2,000 away from something else for a repeated event because we’ll have to do it two more times. That’s $6,000,” said Epstein.

And a weekday solution would create its own issues, said Epstein, with long lines of vehicles likely to impede traffic on a busy roadway, annoy the neighbors and clogging up the Town Yard during a busy work day.

While proposals such as drop-offs on consecutive Friday and Saturday one-paid and the other free were bantied about, Marcotte told the board his department simply could not conduct the service “if we don’t charge. I don’t have a budget for it.”

While Caputo said he understood Marcotte’s frustration, “we’ll have to be creative in how we can enable this. Can we try [drop offs] a couple of times during the week and see how that works.”

It was Town Administrator Patrice Garvin who broke the logjam by injecting “I think it’s worth at least a try,” followed by Marcotte saying “I’m open to that.”

Garvin added a caveat of significant outreach to residents along Waverley and C streets on the time span and traffic mitigation for the event now set for the week of Dec. 1.

“We’ll figure it out,” said Garvin.

One-Time Cardboard Curbside Pickup Starts June 22 With ‘Blue Monday’

Photo: Waste Management is putting a cardboard only truck on the road for eight weeks.

One of the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown has been a tsunami of corrugated board spilling out of every nook and cranny of many Belmont homes.

While families are living on deliveries from Amazon, UPS and Federal Express, the pandemic has forced the cancellation of the several town-sponsored “cardboard events” as it has discouraged the gathering of large groups.

“The last three months, I would say with 100 percent certainty the number one phone call that we’ve had at DPW is what do I do with all my cardboard,” Jay Marcotte, director of Department of Public Works told the Belmont Select Board Monday, June 15, as the pandemic has amplified the town’s cardboard ‘situation” (“It’s not an emergency,” said Marcotte.)

Now, the town has come up with a solution to the growing menace of cardboard overload.

Rather than residents bringing the cardboard to the town, the town is coming for the cardboard. Starting next week on Blue (carts) Monday (the resident’s recycling day) June 22, residents will get a one time only “get out of jail” cardboard card as the town’s hauler Waste Management will put a truck on the road dedicated solely for cardboard pickup.

And best yet, there’s not limit of cardboard the truck will carry away. If you can pile it, flattened and neatly stacked, on the curbside, they’ll take it.

Any questions? Contact DPW at 617-993-2680.

Cardboard Drop-Off On Saturday, Jan. 25, At Town Yard

Photo: Cardboard drop-off on Saturday.

Do you have too much cardboard for your recycling cart? Then come to the DPW cardboard drop-off event on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard at the end of C Street off Waverley Street.

This drop-off is for Belmont residents only, so bring ID verifying your address.

It is important to flatten all cardboard to keep the line moving. The DPW will not take cardboard that has been wet or not flattened. Details below.

DPW Recycling Day Oct. 19; Cardboard, Paper Shredding on Oct. 26

Photo: DPW recycling is here!

The Belmont Department of Public Works will be holding it’s next Recycling Day on Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. at the DPW Yard at 37 C St.

Cardboard drop off and paper shredding will take place on Oct. 26 from 9 to noon at the same location.

The material that will be recycled on Oct. 19 include (click on each item for more information)

BOSTON BUILDING RESOURCES –

ANIMAL RESCUE LEAGUE – Separate towels and sheets from your textiles to donate to this organization. 

CIRCLE OF HOPE – Donate new and gently used clothing of all ages especially shoes and Mens Clothing, towels, sheets and blankets

RIGID PLASTICS – Will Not Be Collected

STYROFOAM – Will Not Be Collected (Company out of Business)

Spring Corrugate Cleaning: Cardboard Drop Off Saturday, March 30

Photo: Cardboard drop off Saturday.

Have you got so much cardboard its overwhelming your recycling cart? Rather than waiting every two weeks to place it on the curb (and still have more stored in the garage), this Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. and noon, the Belmont’s Highway Department will accept dry and flattened cardboard packaging for recycling.

The drop off will take place at the DPW Yard, 37 C St. (off of Waverley Street)

Cardboard will be the only item taken. And the DPW will accept as much as you can fit into your vehicle.

Corrugate Tsunami! After Town Yard Swamped, Town Holding Second Cardboard Day Saturday

Photo: A DPW photo showing just one of the containers filled with cardboard.

The Department of Public Works knew they would have a good response with its first cardboard drop off event of the new year – the first since the holiday season – so it reserved a second 42-foot long transport container “just in case” the first would fill up.

What occurred on Saturday morning, Jan. 5, was beyond anyone’s imagination.

Approximately 276 cars – many stuffed to the brim with packaging and corrugated paper – crawled into the Town Yard at the end of C Street, as the undermanned volunteers and workers tried their best to take out the material and find someplace to put it. Before noon on Saturday, not only were the two shipping container stuffed, the workers filled the shed housing the department’s snow trucks with cardboard. Even before the noon ending, Belmont Police was turning people away as the line were potential traffic on Waverley Street. 

As DPW director Jay Marcotte said before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, Jan. 7, “it was a lesson learned.”

In response to the obvious demand, the DPW is holding a second cardboard recycling drop off this Saturday, Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard off C Street.

With last week’s enthusiastic response for this drop off still fresh on everyone’s mind and with the trend of cardboard recycling is “going up,” Marcotte said the town along with its recycling hauler Waste Management is studying whether to have a regularly scheduled drop off time – for example, an hour on Monday evenings after work – that would be spaced out over a few weeks so the neighborhood on C Street doesn’t feel they are being invaded by their fellow residents. It would involve the rental or purchase of a compactor which would dramatically lessen the number of containers required. 

A new recycling program could also alleviate the growing outcry from residents who contend the blue “recycling” carts aren’t large enough to hold two weeks of cardboard and other recyclables, While residents can store additional trash in authorized purchased bags, there’s no such alternative for recycling since the 96-gallon cart was considered sufficient capacity for two weeks of paper by similar-sized communities with a similar single-stream system.  

Trash/Recycling Update: Carts Are (Still) Coming; A Day For The Old Barrels: Sept 29

Photo: Carts and barrels are on the way.

It was anticipated Belmont’s new automated trash and recycling collection program would be up and running by the first week in July. That was the plan developed by the town over half-a-year of preparation; it turns out the weather had other plans.

According to a Friday, July 6 press release from the Belmont Department of Public Works, the intense temperatures generated by the week-long heat wave slowed the carts distribution to a crawl.

The new deadline for all of Belmont to receive trash and recycling carts is Thursday, July 13.

“Please be patient and we appreciate your cooperation,” asked the DPW news release.

The DPW has also set the day for residents to drop off their old trash barrels: Saturday, Sept. 29, 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard, 37 C St.

The DPW is telling the public not to place old trash barrels or recycling bins on the curbside to be picked up. In fact, they are advising residents to use barrels that are 32-gallon or smaller as Yard Waste receptacles. The blue and green recycling bins can be used as storage or a way to bring your recycling from your house to the cart. 

The town will also be accepting cardboard on Sept. 29; it will need to be cut and folded to be accepted.

Recycling Event Cancelled Again; Rescheduled to Jan. 13

Photo: Cardboard recycling.

The weather does not want to cooperate.

With a foot of snow earlier in the week, anticipated temperatures in the single digits and the demands on the Department of Public Works has forced the town to once again cancel the town-wide cardboard recycling event this Saturday.

The event has been rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard, 37 C St. 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Town Delays Cardboard Recycling One Week

Photo: Cardboard event postponed.

The cardboard recycling event scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 30 has been cancelled due to expected “extreme weather conditions,” according to the Belmont Department of Public Works.

Forecast for Saturday calls for temperatures in the high teens. 

The collection day has been rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard off C Street. 

Cardboard Recycling At Town Yard Saturday AM

Photo: Cardboard, uncut but folded.

Belmont’s Department of Public Works’ cardboard recycling program was such a big hit after the winter holidays; the town decided to bring back the service for the summer. 

So once again, rather than spend time cutting up and wrapping them into bundles so it can be collected during the weekly trash/recycling collection, this Saturday, June 24, from 9 a.m. and noon, the Belmont’s Highway Department will accept uncut but folded cardboard packaging for recycling.

Cardboard will be the only item taken. And the DPW will accept as much as you can fit into your vehicle.

While Belmont’s trash and recycling contractor, Somerville-based FW  Russell and Son, accepts the heavy-duty paper, it must be cut into pieces no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet and tied or taped together to make a stack no more than nine inches high.