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North Adams Council Asked to Endorse Paint Stewardship Program
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:01PM / Thursday, February 29, 2024
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The City Council Tuesday heard an appeal to add the city's name to a growing list of communities supporting a paint stewardship program for the commonwealth.
Tom Irwin of Dalton made the Steeple City his latest stop in a campaign to drum up support for the program, which would fund paint recycling through a $1 per gallon fee charged at the point of sale.
Irwin explained that the paint stewardship program, already implemented in Connecticut, New York and Vermont, would be one way to address Massachusetts' trash surplus.
And it could be a model for future programs to more efficiently dispose of other waste.
Irwin told the councilors that Massachusetts produces 2.8 million more tons of waste than the state has capacity to incinerate. The remainder is shipped out of state, both raising the cost of disposal and increasing its carbon footprint.
Advocates of paint stewardship said it could pave the way for similar programs to address waste items like plastics, packaging and mattresses.
The paint stewardship program proposed in Massachusetts would collect the $1 per gallon surcharge at the time of purchase. Consumers can return partially used cans of paint to retailers, who then would collect them for pickup by PaintCare, a non-profit that represents paint producers and has, to date, collected more than 71 million gallons of paint, according to its website.
PaintCare hauls the unwanted cans to a processing plant, where it is reblended and sold to groups like Habitat for Humanity.
Irwin said the program has broad appeal to Massachusetts residents, citing the 92 percent of users he spoke to at hazardous waste collection sites who signed petitions supporting paint stewardship in the state. He also has noted that between 30 and 70 percent of the latex paint returned to a Sherwin-Williams store in Enfield, Conn., near the state line, came from Massachusetts residents.
Despite all that support, bills proposing a stewardship program in Massachusetts so far have languished on Beacon Hill. Irwin is trying to get municipalities to express their support in an effort to put pressure on legislators in Boston to advance the idea.
"There's not much more I can do," Irwin told the council. "I'll send [the petition] to the chairs and minority leaders of the Ways and Means Committees. This will demonstrate it's a priority to municipalities. At that point, it's in their hands."
Council President Bryan Sapienza thanked Irwin for his presentation and said the council would take up the question of whether to add North Adams' name to the petition at a future meeting.
Just seven councilors attended the Feb. 27 meeting, which lasted about half an hour.
The other main business came up during the public comment period at the end of the session, when Richard Dassatti of Walnut Street asked the council to schedule an update on solutions to the issues raised from a landslide in his neighborhood as its one-year anniversary approached.
Mayor Jennifer Macksey used her update to the council to address some of the concerns raised by Dassatti.
Macksey said the city has made it through the second round in its application for funding through the commonwealth's Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program.
"It's taken us time to engineer the project through [civil engineer] Tighe and Bond and find a funding opportunity," Macksey said. "Unfortunately, we're at the mercy of the grant application process at this time."
In the meantime, Macksey offered to have another meeting with neighbors and promised to look into street signs that Dassatti said were supposed to go up around the collapsed road.
In other business on Tuesday, the City Council:
♦ Postponed to March 12 a discussion on Councilor Ashley Shade's request that the city address its rules on outdoor storage of garbage.
♦ Unanimously approved modifications to the city ordinance on "junk and second-hand dealers."
♦ Reappointed Cody Chamberlain to the Youth Commission, with a term to expire Feb. 13, 2027.
♦ Reappointed Alyssa Sporbert to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Commission with a term to expire Feb. 8, 2027.
♦ And recognized the passing of Dolores Bianco, a former employee in the city's water department and wife of the late former Mayor Joseph R. Bianco.
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