Plastic Recycling Bags at Forefront of Worcester Public Works Meeting

 by Patrick SargentFebruary 28, 2019

WORCESTER - On Thursday, Feb. 28, the Public Works Committee will hold a public meeting to hear comments from Worcester residents regarding its Comprehensive Clean City Program -- with a proposed plan to adopt clear plastic bags in place of the City's current 18-gallon recycling buckets.

The Committee members - District 3 City Councilor George Russell, District 2 City Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, and City Councilor At-Large Matt Wally -- along with other City Council members [notably District 1 Councilor Sean Rose across social media] are encouraging the public to come share their opinions on the proposal.

The meeting begins at 5:30 PM in the Levi Lincoln Chamber at Worcester's City Hall - 455 Main St.

What is the City's Proposal? 

The Clean City Program proposes the following at an additional $1.2 million in costs of on top of the already nearly $8 million in FY19 for Sanitation Programs.

  • Implementation of a Clean Team
  • Citywide Education, Outreach, & Public Awareness Campaign
  • Provide and Maintain Waste Containers in Neighborhood Business District
  • Expanded Hours and Services at the Millbury Street Recycling Facility
  • Curbside Textile Collection Program
  • Implementation of a Clear Bag Recycling Program to Address Neighborhood Litter
  • Introduce Drawstring Yellow Bags for Solid Waste

From City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr.: “In order to fund the initiatives proposed and address the continually escalating cost of the City recycling program, we plan to propose an increase in the trash bag fee of .50 cents per bag in FY20. Based on the usage of bags in recent weeks, this will result in an average increased cost of 53 cents per week. Since the implementation of the ‘pay-as-you-throw’ program in 1993, the bag fee has only increased twice, with the last increase occurring 10 years ago.”

According to the Department of Public Works, switching to clear plastic recycling bags will result in an increase of trash bag revenues of around $1.4 million. This increase will decrease the tax levy support of the sanitation programs by nearly six percent in FY20.

February 28, 2019 Candy mero-Carlson
Sanitation Budget from the City of Worcester


With every roll of five large City trash bags and with every roll of ten small City trash bags, three 32-gallon drawstring recycling bags will be included. According to the DPW, “This option gives residents a combination of bags that should not result in having an oversupply of clear bags or an oversupply of City trash bags.”

However, if the amount of recycling bags isn’t sufficient enough for a resident, rolls of ten recycling bags will be for sale at the same retailers for $1.50.

February 28, 2019 Candy mero-Carlson
Current and Future Trash Bag Revenue from City of Worcester

Pros and Cons of Clear Recycling Bags and implementation of Cleaner City Program: 


  1. Cleaner streets [less recyclables being blown away]
  2. Easier to pack recyclables away


  1. Additional expense of $0.50 per roll of trash bags [additional expenses for multi-family homes]

For further information, please see City's full proposal here.

Lead Image: Flickr/Robert Lingner

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