Curbside and Recycling

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Curbside and Recycling

Postby Nat Fairbanks » Mon Dec 16, 2002 10:35 am

The supporters of curbside have long been stating that the supposed increased amount of recycling with curbside will reduce our waste disposal costs. As far as I can tell that is not true.

Using Hudson as an example, they pay ~$168 for every ton of recycling the town does, while they only pay ~$123 for every ton of waste the town disposes of. Perhaps because of this cost disparity the town only removes 11.2% of potential waste through recycling, so they haven't even reaped the environmental benefits that increased recycling can bring.

As near as I can estimate, the current landfill on Fearon Road has a 20% recycling rate, which actually produces an average of $40,000 annually, potentially paying for a person to staff the recycling station full time. This participation rate should continue with a transfer station, and even increase if the town moves to Pay As You Throw.

How can increasing the cost of recycling and reducing the participation rate be considered a plus for curbside?

-Nat
Nat Fairbanks
 
Posts: 1020
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 1:05 am
Location: Merrimack NH

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Mon Dec 16, 2002 11:54 am

Nat,

I direct you to the following EPA document:

http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/reduce/r99013.pdf

It is a document titled: Cutting the Waste Stream in Half - Community Record-Setters Show How

As you wade through it you'll notice one common trend.....they all believe very strongly in curbside recycling. A community you may find interesting is your old home town of Worcester, MA. When they went from bi-weekly to weekly collection of recyclables in 1996, their recycling rates increased 54%.

The other "local" community that made this list is Dover, NH. I think they recycle about 50% of their waste stream.

This document does acknowledge drop-off recycling (like that of a transfer station), but only to augment curbside recycling.
See EPA document http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/munc ... afford.pdf
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Worcester also went to PAYT with mandatory recycling

Postby Nat Fairbanks » Mon Dec 16, 2002 1:13 pm

Worcester also went to PAYT with a policy to refuse to pick up bags that had recyclable materials in them. A supervisor would then drive each route and ticket those people who had bags left out. While the first offense usually led to a simple warning (along with trash left there all day) repeat offenders had large fines levied on them, with the potential for refusal of service.

This is also the time that several municipal employees were discovered stealing PAYT bags and pocketing the money from selling the bags to others. That very nearly led to the end of Worcester's PAYT program.

While Worcester does have a good recycling program, it's as much due to PAYT and the vigilent actions of municipal employees, not the simple act of curbside.

-Nat
Nat Fairbanks
 
Posts: 1020
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 1:05 am
Location: Merrimack NH

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Mon Dec 16, 2002 1:33 pm

Nat,

Thanks for the specifics on Worcester. None of the descriptions get into program logistics such as this, although I admit to the knowledge of their being a PAYT community.

I'll check on the Hudson figures and get back to you. It would be wierd if they didn't have higher recycling volumes than communities with only transfer stations (no curbside of recyclables) because everything I've seen states there is a very definite relationship between the convenience of recycling and recycling volumes. The state of PA actually mandated any community with a population of over 5000 must offer curbside recycling based on a 5-year study they performed on the cost/benefit. They have an excellent website by the way.

Its difficult to find a specific statement anywhere that offering recycling curbside results in higher volumes than not offering it curbside. It is strongly inferred however and there are any number of reports showing that when its done right, it reduces overall costs. Perhaps this is seen as "intuitively obvious" Nat, but I agree it may not be enough to convince those on the fence. We'll just have to take you up on that challenge!! :)
Mark Fitzgerald
 


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