By Joyce M. Miles
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Seven Niagara County towns and cities are adopting or considering adopting an every-other-week residential recycling program.
The towns of Porter and Somerset will be receiving orders for 64-gallon recycling carts in mid-November.
The Town of Pendleton is on the verge of placing a cart order now, and the Town of Royalton will unseal bids for carts next month. The goal in both towns is to roll out a new recycling program by early January, their supervisors said this week.
Also looking in on every-other-week recycling collection presently are Town of Newfane and the cities of North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls.
The towns of Wheatfield and Wilson made the switch this past spring. The Village of Wilson followed suit in late summer.
A key aspect of the City of Lockport’s pioneering variable cart refuse collection program — assignment of large recycling totes to households that are picked up less often, to cut overall collection costs — has “caught on like wildfire” in the region, says program architect Dawn Timm, Niagara County environmental coordinator.
“As people see the success that the City of Lockport has had with cutting costs ... they’re pretty receptive to change,” she said. “Saving money is the surest way to get people to go green.”
Homeowners in the Somerset refuse district will see a $53.13 reduction in their 2013 refuse unit charge, to $111.87 from $165 this year, thanks to the every-other-week recycling deal that’s going into effect next month.
After modification of its existing contract with Modern Corporation, Somerset residents will still have weekly refuse pickup, and no limits on how much they can throw out. But the more they recycle, the less they’ll pay for refuse service in the long run, Town Supervisor Dan Engert said.
Modern charges the town for pickup service based partly on how many tons of refuse it has landfilled. The “tipping fee” remains in the modified contract, but Modern also will give the town a quarterly cash “rebate” based on tons of recyclables it picks up to process at its new, state-of-the-art Buffalo sorting facility.
“The more people participate, the more there is a direct payback to them in their refuse bill every year,” Engert said. “The great thing about ‘EOW’ is there’s cost savings all the way around, for Modern and for residents. The environmental benefits — including less truck traffic on our roads, less emissions — are icing on the cake.”
The town purchased 65-gallon carts for every household using sales tax and refuse fund reserve money. The carts are the town’s property and homeowners will not be charged, Engert said.
In Wilson, the savings from switching to EOW recycling is less immediate than in Somerset. That’s because the town and the village both bought supplies of large recycling carts from Modern and are “financing” them for a period of up to three years.
Both are paying Modern the same collection rates as before EOW — meaning, paying for weekly pickup of both refuse and recyclables — while Modern credits their accounts for the money it saved by halving recycling collection. Essentially that savings is paying for the carts.
Recycling rebates also are being credited to the Wilson accounts, which means the more residents recycle, the faster the cart debt will get paid off, Town Supervisor Joe Jastrzemski said. Once it is, rebates and reduced tipping (landfilling) fees should help both municipalities cut their yearly contract pickup rates.
The town finances refuse collection from sales tax receipts, so the less it spends on collection, the more sales tax money it can apply to other needed services, like road maintenance, in lieu of property tax, Jastrzemski said.
In the village of Wilson, where refuse collection is paid for through property tax, businesses are participating in the EOW recycling program. According to Deputy Mayor Bernard Leiker, their inclusion should help boost the village-wide recycling rate — and rebates — since many businesses, food and drink establishments especially, are filling up to four 95-gallon carts every other week.
Timm, the county environmental coordinator who advised the Wilsons’ transition to EOW recycling, says the program sparked serious recycling gains by both municipalities. In six months, the town’s recycling rate increased by 126 percent; and on two months, the village’s rate increased by 150 percent.
Credit belongs to the big carts, according to Timm. In the communities she’s tracking, combined volume of refuse and recyclables is the same pre- and post-EOW. What’s different is that once the carts are introduced, refuse volume decreases and recycling volume increases.
“The program works exactly as it was supposed to,” she said.
The Royalton Town Board is aiming for a Jan. 1 launch of EOW recycling, so long as it can handle the cost of acquiring 64-gallon recycling carts, Supervisor Jennifer Bieber said. Bids for carts are to be opened in mid-November.
Like Somerset, Royalton has taken in more sales tax revenue than it expected to this year, and it has some refuse fund balance that could be applied toward a cart purchase. Royalton property owners wouldn’t see a reduction in their 2013 refuse charge, though, because the balance of the cart bill has to be paid.
The town’s per-unit refuse fee this year is $183. Bieber said the town is eyeing an EOW recycling deal with Modern that would lower the per unit cost by about $1, but for the next year or two that extra dollar would be collected from everyone and dedicated to the cart bill. Once the carts are paid for, then residents could look forward to unit fee reduction, she said.
“Discussion about this has been on the table for about two years,” Bieber said. “As I’m driving around town I see that most residents are recycling. Personally, I think it’s just the right thing to do. ... The challenge (for the board) is making a deal that doesn’t cost residents anything more than they’re paying now.”
The towns of Pendleton and Newfane are eyeing EOW recycling deals with Modern as well.
Pendleton is poised to award a cart bid next month, with the aim of rolling out a new program Jan. 1, Supervisor Jim Riester said; the specifics of cart financing are still being worked out.
Newfane’s talks with Modern are exploratory only, according to Supervisor Tim Horanburg; nothing in the town’s 2013 tentative budget hints at changes in refuse/recycling collection.
“We’re still getting arms around the numbers; we have to talk to Modern about financing plans,” he said Wednesday. “We’re looking to save money, that’s the goal.”
Earlier this year the Village of Barker also explored EOW recycling with Modern — and ruled it out, because the hauler’s offer showed “no savings” for the village, according to Clerk-Treasurer Kathie Smith. There are only 213 stops in Barker and they wouldn’t generate enough recycling tonnage to offset the cost of the carts, she said.FYI, Somerset residents The recycling schedule in the Town of Somerset is changing to every-other-week pickup, likely before Thanksgiving. Delivery of large, wheeled and lidded recycling carts to all homeowners is expected during the week of Nov. 13. Once the program begins, roughly half the town will have recycling picked up one week, the other half the following week, and so on. The town will host an information session for residents from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Somerset Town Hall. A Modern Corporation representative will join town officials in answering any questions people have about recycling and the new program. Modern is sending information packets to all households as well, according to Town Supervisor Daniel Engert. The Somerset program does not include properties in the Village of Barker.