2008-08-07 / Front Page

Island businesses will feel impact from landfill rate hike

By Sam Bari

Substantial rate increases at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center in Johnston, the Central Landfill, will impact their bottom lines, local business owners say.

According to RIRR tipping scale house supervisor Steve Pietrantozzi, a 16.1-percent rate increase for regular trash and garbage pickup is being imposed on its contractors for commercial accounts. Construction and demolition material disposal rates will increase by 39 percent. These are the rate hikes being charged to contractors like Island Rubbish, which has an account with RIRR for both commercial and residential trash disposal. Pietrantozzi said the new rates are scheduled to go into effect on Saturday, Aug. 9.

RIRRC Director Michael OConnell said the rate hikes were necessary so Rhode Island would be in line with the rest of the industry. "Our rates have been so low that we are attracting out-of-state customers who want to dispose of their trash in our landfill because of the cheaper prices," OConnell said. "And when rates are that low, people don't have an incentive to recycle, which is the ultimate goal of our programs, to get people to recycle."

OConnell said that if customers checked the prices in surrounding areas, they would see that Rhode Island has been enjoying inordinately low rates for trash disposal for some time. "We want to encourage recycling and discourage out-of-town trash from coming to our landfill. When people make an effort to recycle, they quickly learn the benefits to the environment as well as their pocketbook," OConnell said.

Cheryl Page of Island Rubbish said that the rate increases will only apply to commercial accounts, thereby affecting all island businesses. For the time being, residential rates will stay the same. Page said the increase to their clients is necessary because of the rate hikes that have been imposed on Island Rubbish. However, the exact amount of the increase to commercial customers has been decided. She said they would keep the increase as low as possible.

John Recca, proprietor of the Narragansett Café said, "Even with the increase, it's still the best deal around. If you check the prices in Connecticut, they're a lot higher." Recca said that the increase will not make a difference on his prices to customers. "There are a lot of other things that would cause an increase before this," Recca said.

Jack Brittain, president and owner of Jack's Electric, said, "The prices will affect everybody to some degree. It won't hurt us as much as it will the general contractors because we don't have that much trash. They will be forced to pass the increase on to their customers. It will make the dumpster price go up, and on a big renovation job, a sizable disposal increase can amount to a pretty big hit."

Spinnaker's Café owner Mike Ridge said, "The price increase for that one service isn't going to noticeably affect our prices or cost of doing business. But when you accumulate all the little price increases that have been occurring lately, they add up to a significant amount. I think everyone is feeling the pinch to some degree."

The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation is a state environmental agency dedicated to providing the public with environmentally sound programs and facilities to manage solid waste. The agency funds and manages the state's recycling program, and owns and operates the Central Landfill and Materials Recycling Facility in Johnston.

The agency was created by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1974 as the Rhode Island Solid Waste Management Corporation. It changed its name in August, 1996. Although it is not a department of the state government, RIRRC is a public corporation and a component of the State of Rhode Island. The agency is self-sufficient and earns revenue through the sale of recyclable products, methane gas royalties and fees for its services.

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