Garbage In, No Garbage Out: Westport Dump at Capacity as State in ‘Crisis’
WESTPORT — For days, Westport residents have been unable to dump their trash, as the town's transfer station is full — and according to ABC Disposal CEO Mike Camara, it's part of a larger systemic crisis.
Signs at the Westport transfer station and posted to the town's website indicate that the station will not be accepting garbage drop-offs "until further notice."
Westport Public Health Director Matt Armendo said that the garbage outlets that normally take the town's trash to sorting facilities are also at capacity and have temporarily shut down their service, causing a backup.
Armendo said this has been a problem off and on all year, noting that it has to do with waste stream problems at the state and national level.
But the town is currently looking at getting a different outlet service.
"It's only a temporary predicament," he said.
However, Camara, whose disposal companies manage several hundred thousand tons of waste per year, said that issue in Westport is part of a larger systemic problem.
For years, the state government has been closing landfills and phasing out waste energy plants that burn garbage, Camara explained.
He noted the policy shift came from former state officials who thought state residents would be recycling nearly half their waste by now — but instead, he said, we're at 25%.
"Landfills are finite," Camara observed. "Once you've filled [them], they're gone."
"I can count the number of landfills in this state on one hand, that's how few there are," he added.
Now most of the trash produced by Massachusetts residents is shipped out of state.
This fact, coupled with the current lack of truck drivers nationwide, has meant garbage backups at facilities statewide and prices that have skyrocketed up to 40%, according to Camara.
"We struggle every day to get this waste moved," Camara said, noting that often, if they ask for 10 trailers, only two or three show up.
Plus, he said, many of the state's waste facilities are aging and starting to break down regularly.
"It has become a very serious problem," he said, calling it "very frustrating" and a "crisis" that is "at the tipping point."
"If one of those waste energy plants that [sees] several thousand tons of trash a day has a serious problem," he added, "you will see trash left at the curb in a lot of areas in the state."
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