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City says extra trash won't count against households during post-holiday time period
Holiday season has been replaced by trash season in many Lawrence households.
Most of you surely know how it goes: For every pound in gifts you receive, you most likely have two pounds of packaging and gift wrapping to throw away.
And don’t even get me started about all the trash the holiday dinner produces — napkins, linens, tablecloths, ceiling tiles. (A holiday dinner with a 6-year-old and 9-year-old who know they can’t open presents until they finish their meal, can get a little messy.)
Lots of trash following the holiday season is nothing new, but what is new in Lawrence is the city’s trash system that requires households to use a city-mandated trash cart. Those carts only hold so much trash, and the city has said it expects households only to set out as much trash as will fit in the carts. But the city also has said it basically will give households three times a year where it can exceed those amounts. More than three times a year, though, may result in the city saying you need a larger cart or an additional cart. Those larger carts come with a larger monthly bill.
So, the question has been: Does this holiday season and all the trash it produces count against your three exemptions? The answer: No.
“We are the kinder, gentler, more understanding Solid Waste Division,” said Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works. “We definitely understand people have visitors during the holidays and are going to have extra trash. We’re more than happy to take extra bags during the holiday season.”
Tammy Bennett, the assistant director of public works who oversees the day-to-day operations of the trash system, said solid waste employees won’t be keeping track of households that set out extra trash either this week or next week.
But Bennett said on most other weeks (move-out and move-in week likely will be exceptions), crews will be keeping records of households that set out more trash than can be contained in their cart.
“We feel like we have to keep track of it to be fair and accurate for everybody,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the department has come up with a slogan that summarizes the city’s policy on extra trash: Take it, tag it, switch it.
The first time a household puts out extra trash, crews simply will take it and move on. The second time, crews will take the trash but also leave a tag reminding the household of the city’s trash policy. The third time, crews will take it but also leave a note indicating the city would be in touch about switching the household to a larger cart.
Bennett, though, said the department was committed to be understanding of special circumstances. For instance, one Town Talk reader mentioned to me how her household had a lot of extra trash because of sewage backup. Bennett said in cases like that, a household can call the city’s solid waste division — 832-3032 — and explain the situation, and the event wouldn’t be counted as one of the household’s three exemptions.
Bennett said the city plans to keep track of the extra trash on a calendar year basis, but she said the system is subject to change as the city learns more about it.
“We have to make sure we are getting it right for the customer,” Bennett said. “Our main goal in this is we want to make sure that customers have the right size container for the majority of the year.”