2010-04-29 / News

Jamestown must improve its recycling rate

Let’s Recycle
Jamestown Recycling Committee

Why all the fuss about recycling?

Jamestown was charged in excess of $9,000 in penalties for fiscal year 2008-2009 because it exceeded the amount of waste the town was allotted for that period. The town also missed earning a financial incentive by not achieving the state-imposed recycling target of 28%.

Because this cap increases each year, we can expect both the state-imposed cap on town waste, as well as the target recycling rate, to get more difficult to meet.

Our job is to reduce our trash output, as well as increase our recycling.

State law requires all Rhode Island municipalities to dispose of residential refuse at the Central Landfill in Johnston, which is managed by the R.I. Resource and Recovery Corporation. The statute also requires source separation – paper vs. glass or cans – of recyclable materials delivered to the landfill.

The legislature annually establishes the cost per ton that cities and towns must pay for disposal of waste at the landfill. A local cap limit is established for each community, based on the current population, along with a target CLASSIFIEDS recycle rate as a percent of total waste. In addition to a cost per ton of delivered waste, a penalty cost per ton is imposed for all materials delivered above the cap.

The RIRRC also offers an incentive to achieve high recycling rates by reducing the cost per ton when recycling rates are above the target level. In fiscal year 2008-09, Jamestown exceeded the established waste disposal cap and paid an additional $9,000 penalty.

Jamestown did not achieve the target recycling rate that could have reduced its per-ton cost. The town’s actual recycle rate for that period was 26.3% against a target of 28% of total waste delivered to the landfill.

In response to this shortfall, the Jamestown Town Council approved a Recycling Committee to review current collection and disposal practices, identify successful strategies in other communities and present recommendations on a plan to improve the town’s recycling rate. On Nov. 7, 2009, five members were named to this committee.

To date, the committee has reviewed the town’s waste disposal practices, met with the RIRRC to understand the costs, procedures and incentives associated with waste disposal in R.I., and visited with town officials from other communities to review their successful programs.

The cost per ton of waste charged by RIRRC has not changed in the last few years, but the recycle target increases each year. This target will increase from 28% in the current fiscal year to 32% in 2010-2011 and to 35% in fiscal 2011-2012.

Jamestown’s challenge will be to improve recycling within the town so we can reduce the financial liability associated with waste disposal while improving the environment. We must all work together to improve our recycling rate.

The Jamestown Recycling Committee includes Mike Testa, Cheryl LaFazia, Howard Tighe, Norma Willis and Teresa Leblanc.

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