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Single stream recycling saves money

Date: 6/23/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE -- If the regional recycling facility in Springfield can become retooled, the whole city of Chicopee could enjoy what a group of condo and apartment complexes currently have -- single stream recycling.

Other housing complexes have been contacting the city to see if they can be included in the pilot project, according to Barry Brouillard, the city's environmental programs coordinator.

Brouillard met with Department of Public Works Superintendent Stan Kulig and Mayor Michael Bissonnette at the Twin Oaks condominium project on June 16 to discuss the success of the pilot program.

Next to a standard dumpster in a parking lot at Twin Oaks is a single stream recycling dumpster with numerous stickers detailing exactly what is accepted for recycling. Single stream recycling doesn't require the consumer to separate glass, metal, plastic and paper. That process is done at the transfer station.

In Chicopee, the program includes flattened cardboard, magazines, office paper, brown paper bags, newspapers, plastic bottles, junk mail, phone books, paperboard cartons, glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans and foil and steel cans and empty aerosol cans.

Waste Management is the carrier for the pilot program and Brouillard said the company is passing the savings along to the city.

The program started with seven housing complexes and is now in 15, "with more coming on line," Brouillard said.

Bissonnette explained the more Chicopee residents recycle, the life of the landfill the city uses is extended and the more money the city saves. Single stream recycling overcomes some of the objections people have about recycling.

"This is the wave of the future -- going green and saving green," Bissonnette said.

Because the city pays for dumping the trash in the landfill by the cubic yard, the more items that can be recycled the less money the city has to spend, Bissonnette said.

"If we can squeeze two more years out of the [existing] landfill, we can save millions of dollars for the taxpayers," he said.

Bissonnette believes that single stream recycling could come to the entire city within two years, provided the regional transfer station is ready for it.

Currently the trash from the pilot program is trucked to the regional center in Springfield and then to a single stream sorting facility in Avon, Mass.

Brouillard said nearly 100 percent of the city's residents have access to the city's recycling program and participation is between 80 and 90 percent.

Kulig said there is still confusion over what can be recycled and added the single stream program boosts the amount of recycled material typically between 20 and 35 percent.

Single stream would save the city money because the program would involve the use of one truck to pick up all the recycled materials. Currently, Kulig said, the city uses separate trucks for glass, plastic, metal and paper.