New overflow trash bag program will begin mid-summer, city officials say

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ROCHESTER - During a regular City Council meeting earlier this month Finance Director Mark Sullivan announced that the City of Rochester is working to partner with local Market Basket and Hannaford Supermarkets to provide residential overflow trash bags for $1.75 per bag, which will be sold in packets of 5, starting approximately mid-summer 2024.

According to Sullivan, the bags are only required for trash exceeding the capacity of Waste Management-issued residential toters. The City currently uses a trash sticker program, which will remain in place until the bags are available for sale in retail locations.

Sullivan explained that the contractual agreement between Waste Management and the City requires that all household trash brought directly to the Waste Management Residential Drop-Off location must either have a City-approved sticker or an approved trash bag. This requirement was loosely managed, and often overlooked, in prior years. Enforcement of the contractual condition at the Waste Management Residential Drop-Off location resulted in a sharp increase in sales of trash stickers.

Currently, trash stickers are sold at the Tax Collector and Auto Registration Office, located in the James W. Foley Memorial Community Center. However, Sullivan reported that Waste Management's recent uptick in enforcement has created a wave of additional customers, slowing regular business.

"The new program will help with the pressures of the Tax Office," said Sullivan. "People will no longer need to come to the Tax Office. Instead, they can get the bags at these grocery store locations, and it will be a much more efficient system."

Sullivan emphasized that unlike neighboring communities that require bags for all residential trash, only overflow trash will require special bags for Rochester residents, adding, "This is just for overflow trash that doesn't fit in the regular toter." This program does not affect bulky items, just regular residential solid waste.

Councilor Tim Fontneau questioned whether or not residents will still have the option to purchase trash stickers in the Tax and Auto Office or would the new bags become the exclusive option going forward.

Sullivan answered that the City would "phase out" the stickers slowly over time, more as a convenience to those who will continue to visit the office unaware that the bags have replaced the sticker system.

"We still have a stock of remaining stickers in the office," said Sullivan. "We'll run those down, phase them out, and continue to educate residents about the new retail trash bag program."

Ultimately, City Council unanimously moved to approve the program. The target date for trash bags to be available in all Rochester Market Basket and Hannaford Supermarkets is mid-summer 2024.

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