The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 28, 2003


Expensive trash: $122/ton Carlisle hopes to reduce costs

Carlisle's solid waste disposal contract runs out in 2005 and on February 11 and 25 town administrator Madonna McKenzie briefed the board of selectmen on preliminary negotiations for a contract renewal. Carlisle is one of the 23 communities that comprise the North East Solid Waste Committee (NESWC). These towns all dispose of waste at the incinerator facility in North Andover, operated by the Wheelabrator Corporation. In 2002 Carlisle paid an average of $145 per ton for this service and is now paying about $122 a ton, still well above the market rate of about $64 per ton. McKenzie said that the current contract requires NESWC communities to participate in contract renewal negotiations, even if the towns wish to explore other options for their waste disposal.

History of NESWC

NESWC was formed in the 1980s and was instrumental in the creation of the incinerator, which burns the trash to generate electricity. The ash residue is taken to the Monofill Associates ash landfill in Peabody. The towns signed long-term contracts with Wheelabrator, guaranteeing annual tonnage (GAT) and agreeing to rates not tied to general market prices. At the time many landfills were closing. If the shortage of landfills had continued to worsen, and if electricity prices had increased as expected, then the NESWC towns would have been positioned favorably.

Contracts were renegotiated and extended in 1999 to fund a $35-million dollar pollution control retrofit. NESWC currently owns 48% of the solid waste incinerator. Massachusetts Refuse Tech, Inc. a subsidiary of Wheelabrator, owns the other 52% of the facility and will assume the entire ownership of the incinerator in 2005. NESWC towns agreed to contribute $17 million and Refuse Tech paid $18.5 million for the retrofit. Wheelabrator is in turn a subsidiary of Waste Management Incorporated.

Contract renewal options

On February 11 McKenzie described one-year, three-year and five-year renewal proposals, but reported on February 25 that the 5-year option was chosen by the majority of NESWC and would be the only focus of negotiations. The proposed rates start at current market prices and rise slowly each year thereafter. All the NESWC towns negotiate together and Carlisle's representative is the town administrator. Negotiations are continuing and McKenzie said that many communities feel NESWC should pay below market rates in the new contract, since these communities helped pay for building the North Andover facility.

McKenzie said on February 25 that the annual tonnage requirement has been removed from the contract proposal. Carlisle's GAT is 1,993 tons per year. In 2002 Carlisle took 1,969 tons of trash to the North Andover incinerator and recycled 1,441 tons. Recycling saves the town about $165,000.

McKenzie said that the current contract prohibits negotiation with other disposal contractors until after preliminary negotiations with Wheelabrator are completed. (She said that this requirement would be removed in future contracts.) The selectmen asked the town administrator to find out how trash disposal is handled in Billerica, a neighboring town that is not part of NESWC.

MA landfills and incinerators

State-wide information on landfills and incinerators is available on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) web site, As of April of 2002 there were four privately-owned and 15 municipal landfills in Massacusetts. These private landfills all accept municipal waste. Two of the landfills are expected to close within a few years, while those in Barre and Chicopee are expected to remain open through 2010.

There are seven solid waste incinerators in the state. In addition to North Andover, Wheelabrator owns facilities at Millbury and Saugus.

Other towns: $52/ton

At the February 25 board meeting, selectmen turned to town counsel Paul DeRensis and asked how his town of Sherborn handles trash. He said they have a transfer station and the municipal solid waste is then taken to the Semass incinerator, located in Rochester, Massachusets.

The Mosquito contacted a few towns which are not in NESWC to learn about their methods of trash disposal.
Contract renewal proposals
under NESWC consideration
9/26/05 6/30/06 $64
7/01/06 6/30/07 $68
7/01/07 6/30/08 $69.50
7/01/08 6/30/09 $71.50
7/01/09 6/30/10 $73

Chelmsford contracts with Russell Disposal, Inc. to haul its trash to the Covanta incinerator in Haverhill, at a cost of $55 per ton. Groton also uses the Covanta facility. They take the trash themselves, and pay $51.69 per ton. Concord and Maynard use the Wheelabrator incinerator in Millbury. Concord is currently paying about $65 per ton. Littletown contracts with Ageen and Martin of Haverhill, and Billerica and Waltham use Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) to provide trash pick-up and disposal.

Wayland still uses its own municipal landfill. By recycling 68% of their waste, they've managed to prolong the life of their landfill by at least a decade. In comparison, Carlisle recycled 42% of its trash last year.

The following towns are part of NESWC: Acton, Andover, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Dracut, Hamilton, Lexington, Lincoln, Manchester-by-the-Sea, North Andover, North Reading, Peabody, Tewksbury,Watertown, Wenham, Westford, West Newbury, Wilmington, and Winchester.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito