WAR ON RATS: CITY TO ISSUE UNIFORM TRASH CARTS

Delivery of rodent-resistant trash carts to begin in June.

SOMERVILLE – To help control the rodent population and reduce the city’s
solid waste tonnage, the City of Somerville will begin distributing
uniform trash carts to residential units in June. Every household that
receives trash service from the City will be provided, free of charge,
with one 64-gallon, rodent-resistant wheeled trash cart similar to the
Zero-Sort recycling carts already in use.

The uniform trash cart program is part of the broad new Integrated Pest
Management Plan announced by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone in November that,
among other efforts, includes five key initiatives designed to
intensify existing City rodent control programs:

•    Financial assistance for residential rodent control
•    A new uniform residential trash cart program
•    Comprehensive Dumpster inspection and enforcement
•    Establishment of the Rodent Action Team (RAT) and
•    Rodent fertility management as piloted in New York City

The new carts’ sturdy construction and secure-fitting lids will keep out
rodents, denying them a food source, and will result in fewer
blown-over barrels, helping to keep streets clean and attractive on
trash days. The new carts must be placed on the curb for pickup with the
lid tightly closed, as noted in the City’s current ordinance. If stored
outside, they must also always be tightly closed.

“We run into issues now where households have smaller trash cans that
overflow, so the majority of trash is uncovered on pickup day and more
likely to be stored uncovered during the week,” said Director of
Inspectional Services Goran Smiljic. “Not only are the new carts harder
for rodents to chew through than most commercially sold carts, the
average Somerville household produces 33 gallons of trash each week, so
the new 64-gallon cart will have more than 30 gallons of built-in space
for overflow that will fit inside with the lid still closed tightly.
This should reduce rodent access to household garbage as a food source,
and removing food sources is critical in controlling the rodent
population.”

Delivery of the new carts to homes will take place over a four-week
period starting at the beginning of June. The carts will come with clear
instructions for their use, and residents are encouraged to mark them
with their address to help ensure that they stay on the property.

Data indicate that, combined with active recycling, the 64-gallon cart
should offer sufficient trash capacity for more than 85 percent of
households most weeks. Households producing more trash than fits in the
cart may place overflow trash curbside in their current trash barrels
without a lid. Over the coming months, the City will monitor use of the
carts and may make changes to the program based on data and feedback
from residents.

“The City and the Board of Aldermen are committed both to protecting our
environment and to controlling the rodent population, and with this
program we are asking residents to join in both of these efforts,” said
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “The data show that when people have uniform
carts, they throw away less. We also know that open trash barrels can
attract rodents. This program gives each of us the opportunity to keep
our neighborhoods clean, reduce rodent activity and support
sustainability goals simply by recycling more and keeping our trash
carts tightly closed.”

“It’s important that we promote a safe and healthy environment here in
Somerville,” said Bill White, Alderman-At-Large and President of the
Board of Aldermen. “Uniform trash carts will help us do this by reducing
the rodent population, keeping trash off our streets, and limiting the
amount of waste that has to be incinerated or sent to landfills.”

“As a community, we’ve worked hard to reduce the rodent population. I’m
encouraged that our efforts are starting to pay off, but we can do more,
and uniform trash carts are a logical next step,” said Maryann Heuston,
Ward 2 Alderman and Chair of the Rodent Issues Subcommittee of the
Board of Aldermen. “Rodents, like people, need access to food. The new
carts will cut off that access, making it more difficult for rodents to
survive and improving quality of life for residents.”  

“Examples elsewhere suggest that when you give people a uniform trash
receptacle, they produce less trash, which reduces their carbon
footprint, and these carts will be doing double duty by helping to
reduce rodent activity as well,” said Katjana Ballantyne, Ward 7
Alderman and Chair of the Environment and Energy Committee. “I look
forward to seeing how they impact the amount people throw away and the
cleanliness of our streets and to working with the City and community to
make the program a success.”

The carts, which are being provided by Russell Disposal, came at no cost
to the City, and the City expects them to lead to cost savings in the
future as solid waste tonnage decreases and the cost of disposal
increases. The carts’ standard design will allow them to be picked up
more easily, improving worker safety and making collection quicker and
more efficient. Their handles and wheels will make them easy to roll to
the curb, even when full.

Upcoming Rodent Issues Hearing
The City’s Rodent Action Team will be presenting an update on their
efforts as part of the Public Hearing on Rodent Issues being held by the
Rodent Issues Subcommittee of the Board of Aldermen at 6 p.m. on
Wednesday, June 4, in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall, 93 Highland
Ave.

More detailed information can be found at www.somervillema.gov/trash.