ROCKPORT — After numerous complaints from the public, town officials will begin retooling Rockport’s pay-as-you-throw waste program.

Selectmen and DPW commissioners are working to remedy some of the common complaints that have cropped up with the town’s new waste removal initiative. They will convene to discuss their progress at the next selectmen’s meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“We really got to get this done sooner rather than later,” Selectman Paul Murphy told the Times.

The complaints were laid bare when selectmen met this past Tuesday night.  According to Selectwoman Sarah Wilkinson, she’s received around 15 complaints a week from her constituents about the town’s official blue trash collection bags. For one, she said, residents are having trouble finding them. They typically fly off the shelves at stores such as Ace Hardware. 

“The supply of inventory on retailers’ shelves is dependent upon the retailer to place their order timely when their inventory is low,” said Public Works Director Joe Parisi told the Times via email. “The retailers place their orders directly with the bag manufacturer by Tuesday of each week to ensure that their order will be delivered on Friday of that week. Most retailers are re-ordering every 1-2 weeks but there are times that they sell more bags than they anticipated and run out of bags before their new order is delivered.”

To meet demand, the town began selling rolls of the bags at the Transfer Station. However, many residents have complained that Transfer Station employees are not equipped to accept credit cards. Plans to charge customers through the town’s website were shot down, as it comes with an extra surcharge to process payments. At Tuesday’s meeting, Selectman Ross Brackett suggested Public Works employees be issued iPhone card readers such as Square to take orders. Murphy said Wednesday afternoon the town is working with its Information Technology Department to further look into the matter.

Those residents lucky enough to get a roll of bags report the flimsy bags usually split in half.

“I have spoken to the vendor that supplies our bags to let them know of these problems and to be more vigilant in their quality control checks in order to limit the number of poor quality bags that make their way into our inventory,” said Parisi. “The DPW will continue to stress this issue with our vendor but if anyone finds they have purchased a roll of bags that are of poor quality or unusable, they can return that roll to the Transfer Station attendant at the entrance booth for a replacement roll free of charge.”

The town is looking into whether to raise the cap of how many rolls of bags can be purchased at a time. Currently, customers can only buy two rolls at a time. Parisi explained that raising the cap comes with a balance, however. More bags may become more trash throws at the Transfer Station.

The town ushered in the “pay-as-you-throw” waste removal model in June 2018. Ten months into program, Public Works announced Rockport waste was down by 24%. 

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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