Solid Waste Removal Discussion Points and Position Statement

City of Reading Environmental Advisory Council

The City of Reading’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) was created in 2007 to study environmental and sustainability issues and to make recommendations to the City Council on these issues to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents. The EAC considers the collection of solid waste a very important environmental issue. For this reason, the EAC is providing a position statement.

The EAC supported the development of a Total Solid Waste Minimization Plan with a goal of zero waste, adopted in April 2015 by City Council and endorsed by the Administration (Resolution 43-2015 attached). The resolution recognized each individual’s impact on waste disposal and noted the need for a more aggressive approach to total solid waste minimization. The resolution sets the objective of a diversion goal of 50% or better by the year 2030 and zero waste by 2050.

The EAC receives regular updates on the City’s recycling program, including its electronic waste, and was very encouraged to learn that Mayor Scott was considering moving the City toward a single hauler for residential trash collection. Mayor Scott noted the need for a cleaner City and for reduction of the amount of trash that is dumped in alleys and parks throughout the City. A single hauler system simplifies waste collection, tracking and monitoring, reducing illegal and unsightly dumping.

The EAC looked forward to the opportunity to discuss waste removal and ways to achieve incremental progress toward the waste minimization goals before the new contract bid was publicized. At its October 25, 2016 meeting the EAC learned that the City had put the solid waste collection contract out for bid retaining the current hybrid trash collection system.

The EAC is encouraged that the bid document includes an educational component. However, the EAC notes the need for more aggressive, comprehensive educational efforts to reduce residents’ and businesses’ impact on the environment through the reduction of waste and increased reuse and recycling. Education about the efficiency of one City-wide hauler for solid waste collection is recommended.

The EAC makes the following recommendations to move toward a more effective solid waste program for residents:

  • The contract term should be no longer than a two year period to allow Mayor Scott to develop and implement his plan for a cleaner City and implement a plan for a cleaner City through the use of a single hauler system;

  • The City should lead by example and begin earnestly drafting and implementing the Solid Waste Minimization Plan to reduce its own waste; and

  • A comprehensive task force should be formed to examine solid waste as a whole including trash, recycling, waste minimization, litter, waste collection, and education to achieve the desired waste minimization goals. Representation such as the Administration, City Council, Public Works, Reading School District, EAC, Downtown Improvement District, Reading Housing Authority and Hispanic Center is recommended.

The City’s ability to strive for waste minimization and expense reduction relating to trash and its collection will allow for those cost savings to be used in other ways such as park improvements, street paving and public safety. The reduction in trash requiring landfill disposal and the increase in recycling can result in cost savings for solid waste as a whole for the residents and taxpayers of the City. The encouragement of recycling to the City’s business community will improve their competitiveness and profitability by reducing expenses. Education to improve the recycling rate and its documentation will increase the City’s total tons recycled and the City’s overall recycling rate, both of which positively impact the recycling performance grant.

The EAC looks forward to working with the City Administration and Council to become more effective and efficient in environmentally sustainable ways relating to solid waste.