East Providence will soon use automated recycling collection system

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The anticipated switch from manual to automated collection of recyclable materials in East Providence comes to fruition shortly, the City Council heard at its meeting held Tuesday night, July 16.

As part of the updated refuse collection contract with EnviroSafe/MTG Disposal, city residents will no longer be required to use their green or blue buckets for recyclables. Instead, each homeowner/occupant will receive a 95-gallon container that will be picked up using an automated system.

Former City Recycling coordinator and current MTG consultant Steve Mutter told the Council and those in attendance Tuesday the new system will begin to be rolled out in early August. Each homeowner/occupant will be given a new larger container free of charge. The size of the new containers allows for recycling collection to change from every week to a once every two-week schedule.

MTG has purchased four new vehicles designed for automated collection of recyclables. Drivers are currently being trained in the process. For the first few weeks, a second MTG employee will accompany drivers on their routes before the latter eventually go solo.

The change in collection scheduling terms of the city's contract with MTG and the accompanying decrease in personnel needed for pickups will save East Providence taxpayers approximately $288,000 per year or over $1.6 million through the period of the five-year pact.

The improved terms of the contract are part of an overall agreement MTG signed with East Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls. East Providence was able to enter into such an agreement after Gov. Lincoln Chafee penned legislation last year encouraging financially challenged municipalities to join together to consolidate services.

For the time being, at least, the changes only affect recycling materials. Trash collection will continue to be picked up manually on a weekly basis.

"At this time, the city has no plans to transition its trash collection to an automated method," said City Manager Peter Graczykowski. "The contract with EnviroSafe/MTG Disposal to provide trash and recycling collection on a regional basis currently only contemplates the weekly, manual collection of trash and biweekly, automated collection of recycling. The automated trash collection will be looked at as an option in the future."

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.