North Adams warns residents: Be careful what you trash

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NORTH ADAMS — Don't know what to do with that busted TV?

Well, here's what not to do with it: Put it in a trash bag and make the city pay extra to deal with it.

When televisions or other electronic goods are found discarded among other garbage, the city has to pay to have the objects returned to the electronic waste or recycling process.

And when more than one TV or microwave or sewing machine winds up in the trash pipeline, the cost adds up. Last week, the city had to free up cash to pay for it — to the tune of several thousand dollars every year.

City officials have seen TVs, microwaves, toaster ovens, computer equipment and a variety of other objects that people have tried to pass off as regular trash wind up costing taxpayers money.

Michael Canales, the city's administrative officer, said that, last month, 13 tires were found in the waste stream. The city had to pay more than $1,300 to move them to recycling, and pay for their weight for the hauling to the disposal center.

"Because they get charged a fee for disposing of some items, people try to avoid that fee by putting it in a trash bag and [sending] it out with the regular trash," Canales said. "People don't realize each one of these things has a cost."

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There is a list of stuff that should not be stuffed in a garbage bag and left in the bin at the transfer station, and much of it is common sense — anything that could be a danger to someone during transport or a danger to the environment once in the landfill.

Anyone tempted to dump these items into the trash bin should reconsider: asphalt pavement, bricks, concrete, cathode ray tubes that are part of TVs and monitors and electronic appliances. The list also includes clean gypsum wallboard, commercial organic material, lead batteries, hazardous waste and chemicals, treated and untreated wood and wood waste.

Allowed only for recycling are: glass containers, leaves and yard waste, metal and metal containers, recyclable paper, narrow-neck plastic containers, kitchen appliances, whole tires and electronic waste.

"These things have a cost to the taxpayer and the ratepayer," said North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard. "That adds to the challenge of keeping the transfer station open and sustainable."

He said to improve the situation, the city will add signs at the transfer station and embark on a public education campaign to help people understand the process better.

"We want to communicate this more just as clearly as possible to folks before they head up there [to the transfer station]," Bernard said. "We want to make it as easy as possible for them by promoting really good disposal and recycling behaviors and how to do it more effectively."

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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