2008-05-22 / News

Recycling meeting answers questions

By Sam Bari

A May 13 meeting at Town Hall inspired fresh ideas and answered citizens' questions about recycling.

A round-table discussion included the Town Council, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, Mike Mesolella and Sarah Kite from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, and an attentive group of interested citizens.

How recycling works, the town status on government mandates, possible goals and programs, and the benefits that can be realized when the entire community gets involved in recycling as a way of life were all topics of discussion.

Successful programs from other communities were also discussed.

"The pay-as-you-throw program gives you a good indication of how much trash you create because you have to pay for everything that is hauled," Mesolella said. "It encourages everyone to create less trash and recycle more. Recycling doesn't cost a dime."

"No bin, no barrel" is another program that works well," Mesolella said. "Because if you don't put out a recycling bin, your barrel of trash does not get picked up. It's a good incentive to recycle."

Sarah Kite, also from RIRRC, explained the state mandate for recycling for Jamestown. The state mandate for this year is 26 percent. Jamestown is presently at 23.1 percent for the fiscal year and over the cap. "We want to get to 28.5 percent or higher of recycling for 2009," Kite said.

"The town currently has substantial tonnage over their portion of the cap, which is calculated at $56 per ton," Kite said.

Town Council President Julio DiGiando asked why RIRRC only accepts plastic bottles and containers marked with a 1 or 2 for recycling. Mesolella explained that most communities that collect 1 through 7 are only recycling those marked 1 and 2. "Those marked 3 through 7 are inferior products that vendors don't want, so they go in the landfill," Mesolella said.

He said that recognizing plastic containers that are recyclable is easy. "If the container neck is larger than the base it is not recyclable. If the neck is smaller than the base it is recyclable," Mesolella said.

Councilman Bill Kelly, who was involved in waste management in the New York City area, fielded a question from the audience about why caps had to be removed from bottles before they were acceptable for recycling.

"If the caps are on the bottles, they strain the machine that crushes the bottles. The caps are on tight and the air can't escape, consequently, the bottle can't be easily compressed," Kelly said.

"What about batteries, light bulbs, etc. Where do they go?" Di- Giando asked.

"We have pickup for those items," Mesolella said.

Another question from the audience was about properly discarding automobile tires and batteries. Mesolella said that those items can be disposed of at the state landfill for a fee.

Another citizen asked about grass clippings, leaves, and garden trimmings. Mesolella said that clean material can be taken to the state landfill where it will be composted.

Town councilman Bob Sutton

said that the town has its own compost pile at the transfer station.

Anyone wanting to dispose of clean yard waste can take it to the town transfers station, he said.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski said that she thought the yard waste picked up by Island Rubbish was hauled to the landfill for composting, but Joe Tiexiera from Island Rubbish said they did not compost yard waste. "It just goes into the regular trash if we pick it up," he said.

"What about batteries, light bulbs, etc. Where do they go?" Di- Giando asked

"We have pickup for those items," Mesolella said.

Town Clerk Arlene Petit suggested that they educate the public and let them know what happens to trash. She added that Town Hall employees have recycling bins and recycle all paper and recyclable trash.

"Jamestown will get a check larger than $7,000 this year, for its contribution to recycling," Kite said. "Use it for education and re-education. Educating seasonal residents is very important," she added.

"We need a program that was written specifically for our town. We are a hybrid," Keiser said.

At the end of the meeting, Di- Giando said the matter would be discussed further before going to the Town Council. He also said that an appropriate program will be written to meet the mandates set by the state as well as create incentives for residents to participate so the town can enjoy the benefits of a successful effort.

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