Amherst took an important step this month when the Select Board accepted a solid waste master plan that calls for developing strategies that move the town closer to becoming a zero-waste community.
In the coming months, town officials will work with homeowners, renters, landlords, businesses, educational institutions, trash haulers and others interested in considering the recommendations put forward by the Amherst Recycling and Refuse Management Committee.
Among the most essential are increasing composting of food wastes and improving education in general about reuse and recycling opportunities.
The committee’s report notes that Amherst’s waste disposal system already has many strengths, including an excellent transfer station used by some residents for recycling and composting.
Some of the master plan’s recommendations will be relatively easy to carry out, such as adding more clearly marked recycling bins next to trash receptacles in public places throughout town, including recreational fields, parks, bus stops and schools.
Other challenges are more complex and may require solutions that reach beyond Amherst. If the town succeeds in significantly stepping up the collection of organic materials – particularly from restaurants – it would have to find a place to dispose of those compostables. Working with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to establish a regional composting facility might be one solution.
The solid waste master plan is available online at www.amherstma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/35741. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. We urge wide community involvement. Everyone has a stake in throwing away less and recycling and reusing more.