Bristol throwing cash in the trash

Volunteers with Bristol Recycles distribute extra recycling bins before the 4th of July this year in this eastbayri.com file photo. Volunteers with Bristol Recycles distribute extra recycling bins before the 4th of July this year in this eastbayri.com file photo.

If helping the environment isn’t enough incentive for Bristol residents to increase their recycling efforts, maybe saving the town – and perhaps themselves — money is.

The town of Bristol recently entered into a renewed contract agreement with the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation. While the cost per ton of trash will stay the same through June 20, 2015, the central landfill lowered the amount of trash it will accept at the $32 per ton fee, creating a monetary incentive for towns to increase their recycling rates.

The reason for the increase, said Bristol Department of Public Works Director Jim Galuska, is understandable. “The landfill has a finite life span,” he said. “This is a forced initiative to recycle.”

Under the previous contract, the town was allowed to take 7,200 tons of trash to the landfill at the $32 per ton rate. Under the new contract, only 6,800 tons of trash will be accepted at that rate. Additional trash disposal will cost the town $54 per ton.

In 2013, Bristol sent 1.3 tons of trash per household to the state landfill while recycling only 17.4 percent of its trash. According to RIRR data, Bristol creates the most trash and recycles the least when compared to 13 comparative towns based on population. Statewide, Bristol was the fourth highest trash producer in the state, while having the third worst recycling rate among the 39 cities and towns.

For fiscal year 2013-14, the town spent about $270,000 to dispose of its 9,200 tons of trash at the central landfill.

“We’ve got to get better at (recycling),” Mr. Galuska said. “It’s difficult to come up with an acceptable program.”

Ideas such as “pay-as-you-throw” — which charges residents directly for the amount of trash they put out — and “no bin no barrel” — in which trash is not picked up unless a home recycles — have been mentioned as potential solutions to force residents to recycle more. But the town hopes residents will voluntarily increase their recycling efforts.

“What we’re looking for is to change the behavior,” said Town Administrator Tony Teixeira. “What we’re trying to do is to force people to think about recycling more.”

A third option the town is considering is to provide households with one 90 gallon trash barrel. The town will collect that one barrel of trash on a weekly basis. Residents with additional trash would have to take it to the transfer station themselves.

The inconvenience, said Mr. Teixeira, may be enough to change people’s behavior. In looking at what other communities have done, he said Middletown was able to increase its recycling rate by 30 percent after that town adopted a pay-as-you-throw program.

Efforts such as the town’s recycling committee and Bristol Recycles, a grassroots group, has been leading the charge to promote recycling, hosting informational events and providing educational opportunities where residents can become more familiar with recycling.

“We definitely need to be seriously looking at this,” Mr. Teixeira said. “It translates into big dollars. We need to do something.”

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6 Comments

  1. Peter Calvet said:

    Come on people, we can do this. It is so easy. Just put your bottles, plastic and paper in a recycling bin. It only takes minutes. We have a great system in Bristol. Little effort on our part. The town does all the heavy work. There is nobody on my block that doesn’t recycle. Encourage your neighbors. Please don’t wait for the town to come up with strict rules or fines or whatever. We are running out of space to throw stuff away.We have to pull together on this.

  2. Amy Davock said:

    This should be common sense ? we have been recycling for years people, get with the program, lets improve our town and start saving some money. This should be a no brainer?

  3. kidhope2 said:

    Councilman Tim Sweeney ran on the platform of doing what is right for Bristol, and recycling was on the top of his list, we have increased our rate dramatically , he now has us in a competition with Portsmouth on which town recycles most.
    You really cannot beat it ” CASH FOR TRASH ” follow the town’s lead.

  4. ekm2x said:

    As Co-Chair (with Councilman Tim Sweeney) of the BRISTOL RECYCLES COMMITTEE, which was charged by the Town Council 18 months ago to identify and implement ways to increase recycling rates, I want all to know some of the things we have already accomplished: a formal recycling program in the Bristol-Warren Regional School District that is now recycling 1.5 tons/week vs. ZERO in the past; we showed the award winning documentary TRASHED in the Mt. Hope High School Auditorium free to the public to accentuate the issue of waste disposal, we donated out of our own fund raising monies 250 blue recycle bins to all the homes along the 4th of July parade route so that parade watchers could recycle and not just throw bottles and cans in the trash, we instituted recycling at every concert at Independence Park during the run-up to the 4th of July Parade (never been done before), we’ve held 2 BRISTOL RECYCLES DAYS over the last year to educate residents about recycling and will hold our Fall 2014 event on Saturday, October 4th at the Bristol Transfer Station from 1:00-3:00p and have already reserved the following organizations to participate: RIRRC, URI Master Composters, IndieRecyles (electronics recycling, takes anything with a plug), Goodwill Industries (ALL clothing, bed linens, etc. regardless of condition) and passed an ordinance requiring any organization that uses public property for an event to work with the DPW to capture their recycling materials. There’s more to come but we’re GETTING THINGS DONE! Please join us at the Transfer Station and learn all the services available at Bristol’s Transfer Station (one of very few in RI that has a compost program). This committee has worked very hard to get the residents educated and motivated to increase recycling rates and will continue to do so in an effort to avoid the logical next step: PAYT (Pay As You Throw) which WILL BECOME NECESSARY if we don’t “get our recycling act together”!! Keith Maloney, Chair, BRISTOL RECYCLES

  5. Potholes said:

    While I don’t have the recycling figures for Warren, I can tell you that for the past 2 years I have seen A DRAMATIC INCREASE in people recycling since the town instituted a “no bin no pickup” policy. If you don’t put your recycling bin out, then they don’t pick up the trash. It’s just common sense, I don’t understand how people can’t recycle, it’s so simple.

  6. Diane Rodrigues said:

    “In 2013, Bristol sent 1.3 tons of trash per household to the state landfill while recycling only 17.4 percent of its trash. According to RIRR data, Bristol creates the most trash and recycles the least when compared to 13 comparative towns based on population. Statewide, Bristol was the fourth highest trash producer in the state, while having the third worst recycling rate among the 39 cities and towns.”
    Shameful!! Aren’t you educated? It’s everyone’s job to recycle, not just your neighbors in other towns!

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