In the future, you may have to think twice about tossing your fast-food wrapper or on-the-go iced coffee cup into the closest trash can at a restaurant in Somerville.
Instead, there may come a day when some businesses will be required to recycle in the city. As of now, though, all recycling in Somerville is voluntary.
The Board of Aldermen’s Legislative Matters Committee, headed by Alderman Tom Taylor, heard a few preliminary options for how to encourage restaurants to recycle at last night’s meeting, presented by David Lutes, the City’s Environmental Programs Manger.
“This actually came about several months ago actually, when a couple of residents in Ward 3 thought it would be advantageous if we included recycling in fast food restaurants where a lot of Styrofoam, paper, plastic bottles and all that stuff [is used],” said Alderman Taylor at the meeting.
Taylor said he asked Mr. Lutes to investigate the issue of restaurant recycling—particularly at fast-food establishments and present the findings to the committee.
Mr. Lutes brought three options to the table:
- Creating a category of restaurant called “Self Bus” (those places where you are expected to clean up after yourself) and establishing a requirement that those businesses provide recycling bins to customers.
- Requiring all commercial establishments (including restaurants) to recycle and enter into a disposal contract with a recycling agent other than the City.
- Or, to increase outreach to restaurants encouraging them to take part in the City’s already free pick-up of recyclables.
“The third option obviously would be to try to do enhanced outreach to fast food restaurants, to say we're giving you this free, it's a disposal cost you will not bear, if you choose to do our recycling program,” explained Lutes.
As it stands now, the City offers free recycling to businesses as long as they purchase recycling bins, “in order to encourage recycling and reduce the amount of trash” according to the City’s Business trash collection information sheet posted online.
Yet, the City does charge businesses and multi-unit residences for regular trash pickup, unless they rely on a private collection company. A similar fee model would be used if option number two (requiring recycling) were instituted.
Alderman Taylor said the final option seemed most favorable, and suggested the initiative be take up with the Chamber of Commerce.
No votes were made last night, and the committee will again take up the issue in the future following testimony from residents and further investigation of the options presented Tuesday night.