Waste Collection/Hauling and Source Separation

Regulation of waste collection and hauling has two primary objectives. First, the Board of Health seeks to ensure that solid waste is collected and transported using methods that are broadly protective of public health and the environment. Second, for the Town solid waste management system to operate efficiently, the collection methods of the various solid waste streams need to be compatible with methods for management and disposal of each solid waste stream.

Waste collection and hauling on Nantucket are regulated by codes and regulations of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Town of Nantucket Board of Health. Chapter 125 of the Town of Nantucket Code is dedicated to regulation of Solid Waste Disposal, with specific provisions to address the following:

  • Mandatory waste segregation and recycling
  • Prohibitions on use and sale of balloons
  • Biodegradable packaging
  • Transport of solid waste to a disposal facility
  • Segregation of solid waste
  • Unlawful disposal of garbage

In addition, the Board of Health has promulgated regulations regarding permit requirements, reporting and inspections, and enforcement for persons involved in solid waste hauling (Waste Haulers Regulations and Waste Haulers permit).

At present, approximately 75 percent of typical household trash is collected by private haulers that are regulated by the Board of Health, with the remaining 25 percent being self-delivered by residents and business to the Town’s solid waste complex on Madaket Road. Trash deposited in public receptacles is collected by Town crews using Town vehicles. In recent years, haulers have collected household trash that has been separated into three fractions that are kept segregated during the collection and hauling process – recyclables (mainly cardboard, glass, and mixed plastics and metal beverage containers); and mixed municipal solid waste (MSW). Haulers bring bags containing a mix of plastic and metal beverage container recyclables to the Town’s solid waste complex, whereas residents and businesses using the Recycling Center Drop-Off are required to source separate these streams. Solid waste materials that do not qualify as household trash, including construction and demolition debris waste (C&D waste); asphalt, brick and concrete; leaf and yard waste; brush and landscape waste; bulky items; scrap metal; appliances; tires; electronic waste; and CRTs, are collected or self-delivered and handled separately. A map of the Town’s solid waste collection and management system can be found here.

Recently, the Department of Public Works has mandated another level of separation for residents that self-deliver household trash to the Town’s solid waste complex on Madaket Road.  In particular, residents have been required to separate materials that are not recyclable and not compostable (NRNCs) from other household trash. Previously, such materials were accepted with other MSW being processed by the Composter; however, NRNCs contribute to the contamination of the compost product because the Composter has limited capability to separate these materials from organic components of MSW. The new initiative for segregation of NRNCs is intended to reduce such contamination and facilitate production of a high-quality compost product.

Note that most of Chapter 125 of the Town Code was enacted in or prior to 1996, well before the Composter entered commercial operation, at a time when most MSW was managed through disposal in the municipal landfill. Moreover, the hauler regulations of the Board of Health contain reporting and inspection provisions that have not been enforced.

The Town seeks public comment on how the regulation of waste collection and hauling might improve to be broadly protective of public health and the environment, while supporting efficient system operation. In this context, the Town seeks comments on the following:

  • Can waste haulers comply with the reporting requirements of Section 76.04 of the regulations? Are there specific challenges that make compliance difficult? Can haulers provide reporting on more quantities than are set forth in the regulations (e.g., residential, commercial, C&D and recyclables)?
  • Are there inefficiencies for solid waste collection and transport that are unique to Nantucket?  What special measures are required to accommodate seasonal residents and tourists, and collect materials in the town center and in areas with narrow streets?
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has developed a set of Best Practices for Municipalities Developing Private Hauler Regulations. Are there provisions of the best practices that Nantucket ought to incorporate into its regulations?  Are there provisions of the best practices that are not applicable to Nantucket and ought to be avoided?
  • Discuss challenges in collecting NRNCs separately from other recyclable and compostable materials.  What has been the experience enforcing collection requirements for residents?
  • Are there ways in which haulers might reduce reliance on use of plastic bags during collection? Why or why not?

The Town also encourages haulers to submit pictures and brief videos that illustrate specific challenges.

Helpful Information

This page was last updated on July 2, 2019.