Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Ulster County may be late to the "Single Steam" recycling world, but that may change. We are faced with the eminent dictates of the industry, in which I mean, the industry partners who purchase our raw materials will insist that the many types of recyclable materials be mixed together. 

I remember while on the Council, Bill Reynolds introduced us to a company that offered to collect City recyclables at the curb using special cans and scales. The concept of co-mingling was new to us and although we hesitated at that time, those who handle the materials have pretty much forced everyone to rethink trash.

In reading Adam Bosch's report on the advancement in recycling collection and the dilemma we face at the RRA, we Legislators realize we have a revenue issue on our hands. Two recycling companies in our region are already using single-stream collection and sorting. That doesn't mean they all are. 

Adam pointed out the studies that show recycling participation increases when single-stream is introduced. That's because people find it more convenient than sorting into multiple bins. And in many cases, they begin recycling items that once landed in the garbage can.

Only a few years ago, the City of Kingston asked residents to mix cans, glass and plastic at the curb. We saw participation jump a bit since the container issue had diminished. The mix of paper and cardboard into the same bin is what threw the Council when we discussed the alternative. With partially cleaned cans and bottles, the newspaper and cardboard were sure to turn to mush during the week it sat on the porch. I didnt know how the industry would utilize the old Freeman with marinara sauce on it.
If I recall, the former director of RRA asked that the city stop using the packer to mix the recyclables because the broken glass was embedded in the plastic soda bottles. Our DPW continued as we were against his wishes. In addition; I think we finally cut up the old aluminum trailers that had the separate compartments.

Another impediment to shifting to "Single Stream" whether in-house or outside means, is the city contract with our own CSEA membership. Any attempt to change waste collection would have to be either reopened or have to wait until the current contract expired. Change is always perceived as a threat to municipal workers because innovation is spurred by increasing costs. Another term for fewer employees. In the City's case, the limited workforce could be better used where they feel "under-muscled".  

The County on the other hand, has to decide, do we accept the diminished revenue or upgrade the system to accommodate the wishes of the emerging industry? Either way, it affects our bottom line. Expect to hear more about the financial mess at UCRRA in weeks to come. Good luck interim director Charlie Whitaker.

Thank you Adam Bosch for the background.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What, Hinchey not there making announcments? He has been all over the place(photo ops) claiming responsibilty for things/events/cost cutting measures coming down the pike. LOL He must have missed the memo.