The West Hartford Department of Public Works was able to renegotiate the town’s contract with Paine’s to include weekly curbside recycling pick-up.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford residents will be able to place their blue recycling barrels at the curb every week beginning July 1, 2017.
Director of Public Works John Phillips said Friday that a major goal of the weekly recycling effort is to reduce what’s thrown in the landfill – for multiple reasons.
“The objective is for West Hartford to embrace this opportunity, for residents to educate themselves, to be the best recyclers possible, and to push the dial on the recycling rates,” Phillips said.
The state’s capacity for trash disposal is rapidly being depleted, and industry experts say that the future disposal options may involve shipping waste out of state, which would be very costly.
So much of what is thrown away could potentially be reused, recycled, or composted, and Phillips is hopeful that creating the weekly opportunity will help residents change their habits and greatly reduce what’s thrown away as trash.
Public Works conducted a messaging campaign and held meetings with residents over the winter to discuss possible ways in which the town can encourage residents to reduce trash disposal.
In January, a meeting at Town Hall was held to discuss what a SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash) program, with residents purchasing special bags for trash disposal, might do to help encourage more recycling. While reactions to the idea were mixed, many residents saw it as a “hidden tax.”
An overwhelming majority of residents responded that weekly recycling would a key method of cutting down on the volume of waste, and Phillips said that when the trash and recycling contract was put out to bid this year, that was a key component to be considered. It’s something that the Town Council, Public Works, and residents believed was important, he said.
“We renegotiated the contrast this year, and went out to bid with the focus of looking for a partner in waste management,” Phillips said. Paine’s, which is the town’s existing contractor, was able to come through with a deal that meets the town’s budget constraints.
Under the past contract, it could have cost close to $1 million to add weekly recycling, while the cost under the new contract will be between $125,000-$170,000 more per year, depending on how well the town recycles. Phillips is hopeful that the town comes in on the low end.
The town earns $5 per ton for recycled materials, and pays $66 per ton for disposal of trash. Each ton that is diverted saves $71.
“It’s a credit to Paine’s that they understand the community’s goals,” Phillips said.
As important as it is for residents to recycle, also important is recycling properly.
“Don’t mix recycling with garbage,” he said. Loads with high levels of contamination will be rejected.
The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has launched a new website to educate residents about recycling. Click here for those details. The town also has a recycling wizard smartphone app, “WH Recycles,” where residents can plug in an item and find out how to properly dispose of it.
Product manufacturers are also changing their labeling in an attempt to help customers know what can be recycled. Phillips said that as an example, Target has recycling instructions on all of its products.
There are about 1,000 homes that currently have two recycling barrels, and those extra barrels will be picked up once the weekly program is implemented. Specific instructions will be provided to those with the extra barrels.
Residents are reminded that both trash and recycling should be placed at the curb before 6 a.m. on collection days. The trash and recycling barrels should be at least two feet apart from each other.
Phillips is hopeful that there will soon be a large uptick in West Hartford’s recycling volume. “Be smart and take advantage of this, because it’s the wave of the future,” Phillips said.
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