Recycling: Every little bit counts

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Guiteras lunch volunteer Shannon Rozea helps kindergartner Toby Richard recycle and throw away trash after lunch into a new receptacle made by Bristol Recycles.

Guiteras lunch volunteer Shannon Rozea helps kindergartner Toby Richard recycle and throw away trash after lunch into a new receptacle made by Bristol Recycles.

With the help of the town’s youngest of residents, Bristol may finally meet or surpass the state’s recycling mandate of 35-percent.

The Bristol Recycling Committee rolled out its latest program last week, which captures all of Bristol-Warren schools’ recyclables.

Beaming from ear to ear, committee chair Keith Maloney was joined by several town and school officials last Wednesday at Guiteras Elementary School, for a demonstration of a newly installed recycling station.

Over winter break, each school cafeteria was outfitted with a recycling station — the high school got two. Each station features three disposal slots — one for recyclable material, another for trash, and a third for emptying out any leftover liquid before its tossed in the recycling slot.

“This is a great educational piece for the students and hopefully we will engage the parents at home by teaching the students about recycling,” said Melinda Thies, Superintendent of the Bristol-Warren Regional School District.

Each station cost $1,000, for a total of $7,000. The committee was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Carton Council of America, and the remaining cost was picked up by the town and from private donations.

“It was really a community effort to get this done,” Mr. Maloney said. “From building the stations, to outfitting them ready for use. Bristol businesses did all of this.”

Over the past three years, Bristol has fallen short of the state’s mandated 35-percent recycling rate. In 2012, Bristol’s percentage was 29.2, higher than the 2011 and 2010 percentages of 23.5, and 23.2, respectively.

The Town Council formalized the recycling committee last summer out of a task force put together to analyze the issue and come up with a solution.

“Recycling equals tax dollars,” Mr. Maloney said. “The less we pay in tipping fees, the more save in taxes, and the more the town gets back in profit-sharing.”

Last year, the state made $740,626 in the sale of recycled material. Bristol received $13,366.75 for its share of the profits, which is a $20,000 drop from last year, despite turning in more material.

Tapping into the schools’ recyclables has been a months-long project of the committee. Previously, the school district’s recyclables was collected by the same private vendor that was collecting its trash. While there had been an effort within the schools’ cafeterias to sort out the recyclables from the trash, that effort was futile.

“It was all going into the back, into the trash truck,” Mr. Maloney said.

With the stations, the town will be able to capture all the recyclable material from the school district’s 3,430 students. The Town of Warren had already been collecting recyclables from Hugh Cole Elementary.

“Just think about that for a second,” Mr. Maloney said. “All those kids. If each one had a milk carton for lunch everyday, that’s more than 360,000 milk cartons. That’s huge.”

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