Single-stream recycling in town doubles in last year
Over the course of the last year, the amount of single-stream recycling has doubled from 151 tons recycled in May 2012 to 309 tons recycled in May 2013, according to data from the Transfer Station Advisory Committee.
"This does show that our community is interested in recycling," said Dot Kelly, chairman of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee and a Representative Town Meeting member.
The greatest jump in the amount recycled was from April 2013 to May 2013. In April 2013, 191 tons of material was recycled, then increased to 309 tons recycled in May 2013.
"We're hoping next month is just as good," Kelly said.
Since the launch in May 2012, the tons recycled hovered around 150 tons each month, reaching a peak of 168 tons before April 2012, which was an increase from the months leading up to its launch when roughly 100 tons were being recycled.
The single-stream campaign was launched in May 2012, after the advisory committee indicated that the purpose of single-stream recycling was to increase recycling in town. Recycling is a state-mandated law.
With single-stream, all recycling can be mixed together, but there are some rules that must be followed for the program to run cleanly.
One rule requires that the recycling be loose. If it's in a plastic bag, the handlers who sort the recycling must slit it open. In some places, like Bridgeport, sanitation workers will simply not take recycling that remains bagged.
Another rule is that recycling must be clean of food for fear of rodents. At a January Representative Town Meeting, Kelly said if there is cheese in pizza boxes and peanut butter left in jars, those items are better off thrown in the garbage.
Single-stream recycling helps reduce the cost of waste disposal to the tune of about $100 per ton, according to Kelly.
According to the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, switching to single-stream recycling reduces costs for trash haulers and results in more items being collected. Currently, about 65 cities and towns in Connecticut, including Stamford, Hartford and New Haven, participate in single-stream recycling, according to the DEEP website. However, it was noted residents should be educated about what items can be recycled and how to prepare the items for pickup.
The steady increases in recycling were expected, however.
When the Connecticut Resources Recycling Authority launched single-stream recycling into its Mid-Connecticut Project, which encompasses 50 municipalities, the amount of total recycling in the towns increased from 9 percent in 2008 to 11.5 percent in 2012.
The move to townwide single-stream recycling was made last year. The facility that processes Darien's trash had been doing single-stream a year prior to Darien joining.