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Jan 12, 2016 10:51 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton Town May Switch To Single-Stream System For Recycling At Transfer Stations

The SouthamptonTown Board is considering switching from a co-mingling recyclable program to a single-stream recylcing program where all recyclable materials can be placed in the same container.    DANA SHAW
Jan 12, 2016 3:34 PM

Transfer stations in Southampton Town soon could switch to a new, more user-friendly model for recycling that would eliminate the need for residents to separate reusable goods by material, both at home and when taking the items for disposal.

At the request of Brookhaven Town, with which it currently has a recycling agreement, the Southampton Town Board is considering switching from a co-mingling recyclable program—meaning paper, cardboard, and glass, cans, and some plastic. are separated into three different containers—to a single-stream recycling program, where all recyclable materials can be placed in the same container and are separated later.

The Town Board discussed the proposal at a work session on Thursday, January 7, ultimately deciding to ask for more time from Brookhaven, which needs an answer by the end of January. The board is weighing its options, including what the change would mean both economically and for the environment.

“I like the single stream,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said while presiding at his first work session on Thursday. “I think it is easier for people, I think the tonnage of recyclable materials will go up, and I know that Brookhaven Town is looking to take in more. I think it is a good direction to go in.”

Currently, Southampton Town residents can drop off both non-recyclable household garbage and recyclable materials at the town-owned transfer stations in Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Sag Harbor and North Sea. Non-recyclable refuse is placed in one container at the facility, and then separate bins are used for various recyclables: paper, cardboard or cans, glass and plastic. From there, the town transports the separated containers to a material recovery facility in Brookhaven, where the material is recycled.

With the current system, the town pays Brookhaven $20 a ton to recycle most of what is collected, and $55 per ton to haul away construction and demolition debris, which is collected at some facilities. At the same time, the town sells recyclable paper and cardboard materials at market value, which fluctuates. The average fee collected in 2014 was $77 per ton for cardboard and $41 per ton for paper.

Under the single-stream program, the paper and cardboard would be mixed with other recyclables, and Southampton Town would be paid $15 per ton by Brookhaven for the combined recycled materials.

If Southampton opted to stay with the current system, using separate containers, the town would be charged $45 a ton for collection of most recyclables, more than double the current rate.

According to Christine Fetten, Southampton Town’s director of municipal works, the switch to single-stream likely would result in lost income for the Town of Southampton, but it would still be a better deal than maintaining the existing system at the increased charge. At last week’s meeting, Ms. Fetten also explained that the town had requested bids from private carters for the same service, and only one of the respondents met the requirements for the bid—and would charge even more.

Town Board members were divided about what to do with the proposal.

Councilwoman Christine Scalera asked for more time to review other options, and noted that one of the biggest concerns with single-stream recycling is that the paper products can be contaminated by liquids from bottles and cans, making them unrecyclable.

“The recyclables we have at the transfer stations, as they are separated, are very clean,” Ms. Fetten said in response to Ms. Scalera’s concerns. “There is potential for them to be contaminated with moisture, but that stuff will usually dry out as long as you are not recycling the paper plate you ate spaghetti on—because that is not a recyclable commodity. So it should not be that much of an issue.”

Councilman John Bouvier also requested more time to study the contract, which would lock the town in for five years, although there is no minimum amount of garbage that would have to be sent to the Brookhaven facility.

Both Mr. Schneiderman and Councilman Stan Glinka said they were in favor of moving forward with the proposal, saying it seems like the most cost-effective option available at this time.

“She hasn’t given us anything that is better,” Town Comptroller Len Marchese said at the meeting of Ms. Fetten. “Both options are bad; one is losing less revenue than the other.”

According to Mr. Schneiderman, the single-stream program could end up benefiting the town, because residents will no longer have to divide recyclables into three containers for disposal. That might increase the number of people using the transfer stations, he suggested, resulting in a higher tonnage to be transported to Brookhaven. The more tons, the more revenue the town could make.

“If we go to single-stream, we are making it easier for the public, so it might lead to more recyclables, which hasn’t been factored into our numbers yet,” he said. “We are also going to need less equipment, which we might then be able to surplus and could be sold. This could be a good thing.”

The town will wait to hear if it will get an extension from Brookhaven Town. If not, a decision will most likely be made at the January 26 Town Board meeting at Town Hall.

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and perhaps a sturdier and a bit larger (the smaller size) green bag....same price....
By native68 (20), southampton on Jan 12, 16 1:04 PM
buying green bags is stupid.easthampton has a better system
By BrianWilliams (87), on Jan 12, 16 2:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
really.....what would that be....don't like adding MORE green plastic to our world...
By native68 (20), southampton on Jan 12, 16 4:33 PM
Jay makes it really tough to defend him. Only one that sends to think it's a good idea after spending nearly a decade working with the people who are now squeezing us, the island piggy bank, for more. Come on Jay, use that influence a little...
By Brandon Quinn (191), Hampton Bays on Jan 12, 16 2:53 PM
Being responsible stewards of the environment is rarely cost effective. Being lazy is cheap as all hell, however...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 12, 16 6:25 PM
Jay Schniederman is part of the problem . Suffolk County has hundreds of cops making more than a 200k a year, and is bankrupt on paper. This is all on Jays watch, and we voted him in? Hilarious
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 12, 16 7:39 PM
A system that is more efficient and easier for residents???... Not in this town!
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Jan 16, 16 7:58 PM