United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
Solid Waste and
Emergency Response
(5306W)
EPA-530-F-99-017r
October 1999
www.epa.gov/osw
Worcester,
Massachusetts
54% Residential Waste Reduction
Overview
    In the early 1990s, Worcester faced looming state landfill
bans for recoverable materials, and the city needed to transfer
trash costs from its tax base to user fees. In 1993, the city
implemented curbside recycling and a pay-as-you-throw
(PAYT)  trash system. The per-bag trash fees offer financial
incentives for residents to reduce trash disposal, recycle at
curbside, and deliver their yard trimmings to one the city's
three yard debris drop-off sites.  Per-bag trash fees combined
with a city ordinance that prohibits the disposal of recyclables
and yard debris with trash resulted in the city nearly tripling
its residential waste reduction rate from 15% in 1992 to 44%
in 1994.   In  1996, Worcester switched from biweekly to
weekly recycling collection and  the residential waste
reduction rate further increased to  54% (27% through
recycling and 27% through composting).

Keys to High Waste  Reduction
    The variety of materials collected at curbside, pay-as-you-
throw trash fees, a state bottle bill, and diversion of yard debris
all contribute to the city's high diversion rate.  Worcester's
weekly curbside recycling program collects up to 18 types of
recyclables (including mixed paper, all plastic containers, and
milk and juice cartons).  Residents can also recycle large items,
   such as appliances, through a special bulky items collection
   program.  Residents must place trash in
   special yellow bags or  city trash crews
  will not collect it. A 30-gallon bag costs
  50(t and a 15-gallon bag costs 25(t.
   Massachusetts' container deposit law
   requires consumers to pay a 5(t deposit
    on many beverage containers. In 1996,
    approximately 4% of Worcester's
     residential waste stream was recovered
     through the  deposit system.
      Worcester provides fall leaf
     collection and operates drop-off sites
                                DHALU
                                POPULATION: 1 71 ,226
                                  (1995), 169,759
                                  (1996)
                                HOUSEHOLDS: 63,588
                                  (1996); 22,500 single-
                                  family households (one
                                  unit per building), 41,088
                                  multi-family units
                                     1992
                    1996
              Tons Per Year
       53,087
57,573
               Percent Diverted
                 Recycled
                 Composted
         15%
          7%
          8%
  54%
  27%
  27%
               Average Ibs./HH/day
         5.84
  6.20
               Net Program Costs/HH      NA     $75.34
                 Disposal Services          NA      $48.15
                 Diversion Services         NA      $27.19
               Notes: 49,824 households served in 1992; 50,868 in 1996. 1992
                 dollars adjusted to 1996 dollars using the GDP deflator.
                 Numbers may not add to total due to rounding.
                                         Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 1999.
   This profile is part of the fact sheet Cutting the Waste Stream in Half: Community Record-Setters Show How (EPA-530-F-99-017).

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              for other yard debris from April through
              November. Residents can deliver their yard
              debris to these facilities at no charge.  In 1996,
              more than one-quarter of the city's residential
              waste was composted in the city's yard debris
              collection and processing program.

              Cost-Effectiveness
                   In  1996, the city spent $3.8 million for
              trash, recycling, and yard debris services 
              about $75 per household served.  Of this, 64%
              was spent on trash collection and  disposal, 20%
              was spent on recycling, and 16% was spent on
              yard debris collection and recovery. On a per-
                ton basis, trash cost $96, while waste
                        reduction cost $47  ($54 for recycling
                           and $40 for yard  debris
                            recovery).  The city has
                        contained  costs by reducing the
                V  number of trash crews and the number
              of workers  on the crews in response to
              decreasing trash disposal.  Since recycling
              began,  trash crews service the same number of
              houses but  do  so  for one-third less labor costs.
              The number of city  Solid Waste Management
              program employees dropped from 58 in 1993
              to 46 in  1996.
       RESIDENTIAL WASTE GENERATION
           PER  HOUSEHOLD PER DAY
       7.0
              1992    1994    1996
           I] Trash     ] Recycling      | Composting

   Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliancer 1999.
Tips for Replication
       Implement a pay-as-you-throw trash
system.
       Collect as wide a variety of materials as
possible.
       Make program  participation convenient.
       Avoid adding a material to the recycling
program and then taking it away, especially in a
pay-as-you-throw system. Residents do not
like to be told they have  to pay to dispose of
something that had been free.
 MATERIALS RECOVERED
CURBSIDE:
  newspaper, magazines and catalogs, corrugated cardboard
  mixed paper (mail, office paper, paperboard, paper bags, and phonebooks)
  milk andjuice cartons and boxes
  glass containers
  scrap metal
  aluminum cans, trays, and tins
  steel food and beverage containers
  all plastic containers (except motor oil and antifreeze containers and pails
   or buckets)
  white goods
  leaves

DROP-OFF:
  leaves, grass clippings, brush, Christmas trees, and other yard and garden
   debris
  Contact
   Robert Fiore
   Assistant to the Commissioner
   Department of Public Works
   20 E.Worcester Street
   Worcester, MA 01604
   PHONE: 508-799-1430
   FAX: 508-799-1448
   WEB SITE:  http://www.ci.worcester.ma.us/
     services /dpw/index.html

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