Pittsfield announces trash pickup protocol enforcement in Facebook post

PITTSFIELD — Some residents saw their trash stickered and rejected in recent weeks as the city deployed "soft enforcement" of its existing solid waste ordinance.

A Facebook post from City Hall signaling the enforcement uptick, which began last month, prompted public outcry Thursday. Compliance will be a significant change for many in the community, like seniors who grew used to placing trash bags curbside without a container, residents with trash containers larger than 32 gallons and those without the standard-issue recycling bin.

The city hasn't issued any tickets with the update, according to the post, but instead gave guidelines to its hauler, Republic Services, to begin stickering — labeling and not collecting waste improperly presented.

"We acknowledge that an update to the community, prior to the start of enforcement, would have been beneficial and served to prepare citizens for compliance with existing regulations," the post conceded.

For years the city has failed to systematically enforce its solid waste ordinance, officials have said during recent steps to update the legislation. It has also so far failed to agree on changes to the ordinance, most recently evidenced in an attempt from Mayor Linda Tyer to implement a tote-based pickup system.

Now, the Ordinances and Rules Committee of the City Council is taking its own steps toward overhauling the city's solid waste program.

Here's a breakdown of the guidelines contained in the post:

- Trash must be placed in 32-gallon containers with handles. Containers should not exceed 50 pounds when full, though trash exceeding that weight guideline will be stickered and still be collected.

- Recycling must be placed in the designated recycling containers in order for haulers to collect it.

- Items like furniture and vehicle tires that cannot be broken down to fit in a 32-gallon container require a bulky waste sticker for pickup.

- Haulers will not collect trash bags beyond what is placed in a container.

Administrative Services Director Roberta McCulloch-Dews said Friday the mayor's office would not offer comment beyond the contents of the post, which said enforcement measures "were publicly advocated for in the wake of the discussion around the proposed solid waste management plan."

Residents in the comment thread took issue with the 50-pound weight limit, which city councilors have said was requested by Republic Services to avoid the kind of staff injuries they claim are frequent for back-end pickup crew.

The current ordinance has no such weight limit, but says: "All solid waste to be collected by the city shall be placed in a suitable container, with handles, not to exceed 32 gallons in capacity."

The proposed tote system would have addressed the injury issue by moving the program to trucks with automated arms — the city-issued totes to fit those arms. Some commenting on the thread said they felt the new guidelines came out of spite for public resistance to the tote proposal Tyer withdrew in March.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions