Tag Archive | "Suburban Sanitation"

Private Carters Make Efforts to Recycle

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By Claire Walla

When the East End said goodbye to on-site landfills more than a decade ago, dumping habits inevitably changed. Instead of carting materials to a central location locally where they were either recycled or put into the ground, transfer stations were set up to collect residents’ unwanted debris and truck it elsewhere.

According to a draft of Southampton Town’s newest waste management plan, 50 percent of those using the town transfer stations do recycle — this is reportedly better than the national average of 30 percent. However, only 15 percent of Southampton Town residents are estimated to use town transfer stations.

So, what happens to the other 85 percent?

“Most of the waste is going directly through private carters,” explained New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., which makes it difficult for the town to regulate.

Mickey Valcich, of Mickey’s Carting, Corp. in Montauk, which services Sag Harbor and other parts of the East End, claimed Mickey’s does in fact recycle. However, his company’s recycling efforts do not require homeowners to separate materials.

“We don’t separate collections,” he explained. “Because [Eastern Resource Recycling] has a system where they sort the garbage there. They run the garbage across a conveyor belt and pull out all the recycling.”

Valcich said all waste materials and recyclables are taken to the Eastern Resource Recycling facility in Yaphank.

For Sag Harbor owned Suburban Sanitation, the situation is a little different. While the company also takes much of its debris to Eastern Resource Recycling, owner Ralph Ficorelli said cardboard and newspaper are taken to Gershow Recycling in Medford. Because the materials need to be separated-out to be taken to two separate facilities, he said his company runs on a bi-weekly recycling schedule.

Every Thursday, Ficorelli said the company rotates between picking up bundled newspapers and cardboard one week, and then co-mingled products (glass, plastic and tin) the next.

“Most people are great,” Ficorelli said. “They either have bins marked recyclables, or it’s separated from their other stuff.” He estimated that between 50 to 75 percent of his clientele make an active effort to distinguish recyclables from regular rubbish, though that’s just a ballpark estimate.

For the rest of the households on his company’s pick-up route, those that don’t actively recycle, Ficorelli said that doesn’t necessarily mean recyclable materials are simply discarded.

Just as Mickey Valcich explained, Ficorelli said that much of the debris taken to Eastern Resource Recycling is placed on a giant conveyor belt, where employees pick through materials, separating out all the recyclables.

Whether or not everything gets separated out from the rest of the trash heap, Ficorelli said he wasn’t sure. “It depends,” he said. “A lot of the material they put on the picking belt is loose material. They run [the garbage] through a trommel, which actually does break open a lot of the bags,” he explained.

“I don’t know what the average is, but [the pickers] make a valiant attempt to recycle whatever they can,” he added.

Both Ficorelli and Valcich said they do not get paid for any of their scrap material (though Ficorelli said Gershow does pay for newspaper and cardboard material). However, they don’t have to pay tipping fees for recyclables, because Eastern Resource Recycling can turn those products around and sell them for a profit.

“We’re basically just happy to get rid of them at no cost,” Ficorelli said.

While materials like glass and plastic may not be very valuable here in the U.S., these materials can be separated out and sold internationally. According to www.recycleinme.com— which lists current market prices for various scrap materials — the price of plastics in China, for example, is roughly three times the market price in the U.S.

As part of its new waste management plan, which is regulated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Southampton Town is being required to gather information from private carters regarding their recycling habits. This will give the town a better idea of where all its waste is going.

However, Assemblyman Thiele said even with this information, the town would not necessarily have the authority to regulate it.

“It makes it difficult to enforce these recycling goals, because [the town] doesn’t really have control over the waste stream,” he explained.

Thiele said the town will have to re-shift its priorities in order to truly be able to regulate and control its solid waste. When the landfill was shut-down, Thiele said the town took a good hard look at alternatives to waste disposal, including building a waste-management plant or a recycling facility. But instead, he said, the town took “the path of least resistance.”

Thiele continued, “My guess is that less waste is being recycled today.”

Save Sag Harbor Proposes Recycling Bins for the Village of Sag Harbor

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North Haven artist April Gornik is drawn to beauty, which is one of the many reasons she lives on the East End. She considers Sag Harbor Village, a community that embraces and strongly protects its waterfront and historic aesthetic, her true home.

Which is why, as a member of the community concerned with protecting the environment, Gornik reached out to the local not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor two years ago in an effort to gain funding for the placement of recycling bins in the Village of Sag Harbor.

“We have an active and visible group of environmentalists in the village and it I thought one of the obvious things we should do is get recycling bins, marked for specific uses, to show that as a citizenry were are involved in environmental protection,” said Gornik in an interview on Tuesday.

After a year of planning, Save Sag Harbor has made a formal request to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees to allow them to donate three recycling bins to be placed in various locations on Main Street.

The organization has also reached an agreement with Suburban Sanitation owner Ralph Ficorelli, who will be a co-sponsor of the program with Save Sag Harbor, to pick up recyclables collected in the bins for free for one year.

In a letter sent to the village board on June 14, Save Sag Harbor’s Board of Directors asks the board to approve the initiative, and set up a meeting with Ficorelli to decide what locations would be appropriate for the bins, and what kind of pick-up schedule should be adopted for Suburban Sanitation.

“We hope this will be the foundation of a successful and larger program and look forward to working with you,” reads the letter.

Gornik and Save Sag Harbor Board member Susan Meade said on Tuesday that the organization searched out recycling bins that would be appropriate for the Village’s historic aesthetic. They chose a wrought-iron, dark green, rectangular bin with three openings for paper, bottles, cans and plastic, and general garbage.

According to Gornik, they were originally designed by the manufacturer OCC Outdoors to be used in New York’s historic Westchester County.

The Ladies Village Improvement Society of Sag Harbor was consulted on the design and according to Gornik and Mead has signed off on their aesthetic.

Gornik added the tops of bins are sized for their contents — a small, rectangular slot for newspapers, a small circular hole for bottles, cans and plastic and a small square for general refuse, making it difficult for people to dump even small bags of garage in the containers causing them to fill more quickly with non-recycled waste.

About a year ago, the board of Save Sag Harbor unanimously voted to purchase three of the containers for the Village of Sag Harbor. The containers will cost between $1,700 and $1,800 a piece, said Gornik, but are durable and will stand the test of time.

Mead said the board immediately decided to reach out to Suburban Sanitation, rather than place the responsibility of emptying the containers on the shoulders of the village’s Department of Public Works, viewing this ultimately as a one-year pilot program.

In January, Ficorelli agreed to donate his services. A small logo from Suburban Sanitation as well as Save Sag Harbor will be placed on the sides of the containers before they are given to the village, said Mead.

The location is up to the village, she added.

“Frankly, that an organization is offering to give them to the village is just great, but we feel like it is important that no one feels like this is being foisted on them,” said Gornik. “It’s a gift and I hope everyone sees this as something that can beautify the village.”

“We are happy to work with the village in any way to make sure this is something that they want us to do,” said Mead.

As for the on-going national debate over whether recyclables are actually being recycled in the face of dwindling returns on recyclable materials by companies that perform the duty, Gornik said she had faith in companies like Suburban Sanitation and that residents should continue to do their part.

“If you don’t try and make an effort and stand up for what you believe in, and take part in protecting the environment, you are truly a part of the problem,” said Gornik. “You have to stand up for what you believe in and trust the businesses in your community will do what they say they will do. Suburban Sanitation is a business I trust.”

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees is expected to address the correspondence from Save Sag Harbor at its Tuesday, July 12 meeting.