Government Health & Environment

Residents Testify for Same Day Trash Pickup at Boston City Council [Video]

A large crowd of North End and Downtown Boston residents appeared at this week’s Boston City Council public hearing to support “Same Day Trash Pickup.” But, Public Works officials estimate the change would increase the city’s trash pickup costs by approximately $5 million (from $7 million to $12 million) and it’s not clear whether city officials will be able or willing to justify the budget increase.

The “Same Day Trash Pickup” pilot program would have residents put out their trash on the same day of pickup, within a window of 6am-9am. The City’s trash contractor would then pickup the trash starting at 9am. Nearly all those testifying at the hearing were in favor of Same Day Trash Pickup with only one person speaking against it.

Current regulations allow for trash to be put out on the day before pickup starting at 5pm for a 7am pickup the next day. With three pickups per week, that can result in 42 hours of trash on the streets every week. In downtown neighborhoods like the North End, bags are more common than trash containers and garbage can end up on the streets during the overnight hours.

In the North End / Waterfront, the Same Day Trash Pickup proposal has been spearheaded by Neighborhood Council member and Chamber of Commerce Vice-President, Toni Gilardi who has collected over 800 signatures on a petition. In Beacon Hill, the Civic Association has voted in favor of Same Day Trash Pickup. Steve Fox from the South End testified that all 15 neighborhood groups there are in support as well. Similar testimony was heard from Bay Village and Chinatown.

District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina (North End, Charlestown, East Boston) sponsored the hearing that was chaired by District 5 Councilor Tim McCarthy with Councilor Josh Zakim. Other councilors in attendance were Michael Flaherty, Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu. Representing Public Works was Acting Commissioner Mike Dennehy. From Inspectional Services was Director of Environmental Services, John Meany. From Mayor Marty Walsh’s office was Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space, Brian Swett.

The City is currently soliciting bids for its upcoming trash contract (Boston Proper) and has projected costs for the four options included in the bidding document. (21:00 in video)

  • Status quo -> 3 trash pickup days / 1 recycling day with 7am pickup start (~$7 million)
  • 3 trash pickup days / 1 recycling day with a 9am pickup start allowing for Same Day Trash Pickup (~$12 million)
  • 2 trash pickup and 2 recycling days with 7am start (~$8.2 million)
  • 2 trash pickup and 2 recycling days with 9am start allowing for Same Day Trash Pickup (~$14 million)

At the hearing, Acting Public Works Commissioner Mike Dennehy announced that 22 seasonal hoakeys (manual cleaners) will be starting on April 1st and assigned to Boston neighborhoods. Assignments will include following the trash trucks during pickup. Other issues discussed at the hearing included potential fines for trashpicking, recycling, composting, rodent control and state regulations that currently require same day pickup.

Video Timeline Index:

  • 00:00 Councilor Tim McCarthy introduction as committee chair.
  • 00:50 Councilor Sal LaMattina, sponsor of the hearing, makes introductory remarks.
  • 06:15 Councilor Tito Jackson comments, including a recommendation for trash cans.
  • 08:00 Councilor Ayanna Pressley introductory comments.
  • 09:20 Councilor Michelle introductory comments.
  • 11:00 Councilor Michael Flaherty introductory comments.
  • 13:15 Acting Public Works Commissioner Mike Dennehy and city officials – comments.
  • 21:00 Budget projections for various trash options
  • 23:00 City Councilor Discussion with Public Works
  • 51:00 Public testimony by residents


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10 Replies to “Residents Testify for Same Day Trash Pickup at Boston City Council [Video]

  1. I wish I could have been at that meeting, but I had a school meeting scheduled that evening.

    Once again – what about people who are at work? I agree something needs to be done – but 6-9AM is so limiting! What about enforcing the current rules? Or start later in the evening (10PM-7AM?) OR – make your three hour window still end at 7AM??? 4AM to 7AM? I think that sounds perfect. It won’t cost us any extra money, as the trash men already work those hours starting at 7AM. Perfect!

    (And I’m waiting for the comments that it is to early to wake up written by the same people who have told me in other posts to block my stairs with the trash and have my 60 year old neighbor take it out for me so I can “work around” 6-9AM.)

    1. 4-7 would work for me…perfect. Look..if you shorten the hours, someone is going to inconvenienced…that’s understood. But people need to be flexible if they want cleaner streets. The status quo is what got us in this predicament.

      1. Well, as long as it’s perfect for you, that’s all that matters. I get home from work at 2am, so it doesn’t work for me.

        1. That’s the point I was trying to make. Does it suck that trash is out all night? Yes. Should something be done about it? Yes. Is a three hour window at an unreasonable morning time too limiting? Yes.

          Let’s try enforcing the rules we already have before we start making them ridiculous and unable to be enforced.

    1. Even though the number of days goes down, it’s the addition of the recycling pickup which is a separate run with different trucks and apparently more expensive.

  2. I can see what you are saying, Matt, but that doesn’t account for the jump from the status quo 7:00AM pickup at $7M to just sliding that pickup time out by 2 hours to 9:00AM pickup comes in at $12M. Delaying the pickup by two hours increases the cost by 71%? That’s the one I am struggling with understanding myself. I can see *some* cost increase maybe because pickup will take longer during rush hour or whatever, but that’s a big jump.

    1. Yes, I agree with you MarkB about the cost numbers looking high. I was just explaining that some of the options add separate recycling runs. I was surprised when they announced these numbers at the hearing. As you can listen in the video (around the 21 minute mark), they will say that starting at 9am introduces traffic issues, but the scale of the increases look questionable. It’s also worth noting these are Public Works estimates and the bids themselves may come in differently.

  3. I think I need to get out of the restaurant business and get into the trash pickup business…. sounds like there’s lots of money to be made….. Also, put the contract out to bid to numerous contractors…. right now there are only two companies servicing the North End? We need democracy not monopoly.

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