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Up in smoke

Posted by Ralph Ranalli February 22, 2007 07:32 AM

The Wheelabrator smokestack, as seen from Shrewsbury
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


The Wheelabrator incinerator in Millbury, burning 24 hours a day, is the last stop for trash from most communities in the western suburbs.

Forty miles away in Newton, the average resident stoked the fire with 722 pounds of refuse in 2005. Newton sent something else to Wheelabrator as well -- more than $3 million in fees. That's too much money going up in smoke, according to a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the mayor to study the city's finances.

"While Newton was once in the forefront of recycling, it has now fallen behind," said the committee's report, which was released late last month. "Newton could derive substantial financial advantage by reducing the amount of trash and increasing the amount of recycling."

Newton is not alone in looking for ways to reduce its trash disposal expenses. Two dozen area communities could be saving money under a program promoted by the state Department of Environmental Protection as a way to reduce the amount of trash hauled to landfills or burned in Wheelabrator's waste-to-energy operation.

Read more about waste involving municipal waste in Megan Woolhouse's story in today's Globe West.

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