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Recycling rate rises, but flood debris could cause dip

BRATTLEBORO—The town’s recycling rate for the past two months has risen to 30 percent from the mid-20s, according to town Recycling Coordinators Moss Kahler and Cindy Sterling.

According to Kahler, this increased recycling rate has dropped the town’s tipping fees from the $328,000 budgeted to $297,000 at the close of the previous fiscal year in June.

If the recycling trend continues, Kahler expects the town’s tipping fees to come in even lower.

For the current fiscal year, he said, the town budgeted $318,000.

Kahler cautioned, however, that the debris and trash generated by Tropical Storm Irene — which produced a lot of trash — could cause a downward “blip” in the September recycling rate.

At his request, Triple T Trucking, Inc., in Vernon, had temporarily pulled back its stickering of curbside bags containing discarded recyclables along its pick-up route.

The recycling coordinators use a combination of not picking up trash bags containing recycling (and informing the violator with a sticker on the rejected refuse) to enforce the town’s mandatory recycling policy.

Kahler anticipates the recycling numbers returning to normal once the clean-up has finished.

Sterling said the second Project COW (Community Organic Waste) trash container on Fairground Road has attracted more users.

Kahler and Sterling have supported expanding Project COW, because the program presents money-saving opportunities for the town’s waste stream and pocketbook.

They said sending compostable waste to a commercial composting farm closes a loop in the process of waste creation, because the process returns the waste to usable soil, keeping it out of landfills.

Also, compostable waste, like food scraps, tend to weigh more than recyclables or plastic, so composting saves the town money on tipping fees, which are calculated by the pound.

Of the 100 weekly COW users at Fairground Road counted by volunteers so far, said Sterling, about half are repeat users.

The items residents have dropped off at the Fairground Road COW site include unrecyclable paper, followed by food scraps, pet waste, and a small amount of yard and garden waste.

Kahler expects more local backyard composters will use Project COW once winter arrives. As a result, the town will realize increased savings in the winter due to higher use, he predicted.

Project COW also welcomes food waste, like meat, bones, or dairy products, and kitty litter — all materials that cannot be composted in a backyard bin.

The current Project COW trash container costs $77 per week, said Sterling. The town pays approximately $100 per ton in tipping fees.

The COW dumpster is open Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Kahler and Sterling presented this information at the Sept. 20 Selectboard meeting, where they also presented the board with a new recycling enforcement protocol for consideration.

Kahler said Triple T had requested the enforcement be spelled out to make the task easier on the drivers.

The Selectboard will discuss the protocol at a future meeting.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #120 (Wednesday, September 28, 2011).

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