Boston City Council heard testimony yesterday from public agencies and city residents regarding a proposal to ban residential use of trash bags, in favor of barrels. District 5 Councilor Robert Consalvo introduced the hearing that was co-sponsored by the North End’s District 1 Councilor Sal LaMattina. The order was specifically to discuss efforts to reduce litter on City streets on trash collection days in certain residential neighborhoods.
Although no North End residents were present at the hearing, it was repeatedly commented by Beacon Hill and other downtown residents that barrels are impractical in dense neighborhoods. There is often a lack of space to store barrels inside or outside of properties in areas such as the North End.
The Councilors were quick to point out that any future ruling could be enacted on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, depending on the average plot size of properties. Councilor Consalvo noted that in city areas where plots average 5,000-15,000 square feet, it is more reasonable to insist on the use of barrels.
Rodents eating into trash bags was considered a major problem that could be addressed with trash barrels. One concern voiced was the problem of barrels staying on the streets until residents returned from work late in the day.
The use of supermarket/drug-store bags was repeatedly mentioned as a recurring problem. Public Works noted the improvement seen in the North End as a result of the Green Ticket law where 2-ply bags are required. An option presented at the meeting was for the use of new rodent-resistant trash bags that are now commercially available.
The hearing digressed into general trash pick-up issues regarding placement times, pick-up days and coordination with street cleaning. Boston neighborhoods vary widely in practice with areas of East Boston receiving only one pick-up day per week whereas the dense downtown neighborhoods receive pick-ups three days per week. Councilor LaMattina noted that 3 day/week pick-ups result in trash on the streets 6 days/week.
There were varying opinions voiced on the times that residents should be allowed to put out there trash. Currently, residents can place trash out after 5pm the day before pickup. Various neighborhoods have experimented with same day placement/pick-up so that rodents have less time to eat into trash.
The problem of trash pickers was repeatedly heard by those testifying. The value of recycled bottles has encouraged many people to make a living out of it. Several residents at the hearing gave suggestions for how to change recycling pickup, including having recyclables separated at the point of destination rather than pickup.
The full content of the hearing can be reviewed on video at the City Council’s website.