Borough plans mobile recycling center, could save money

EyeRecycle owner Mike Stallings gives a presentation to the Mayor’s Council and Townspeople on Tuesday, June 7 at City Hall. News from the citizens of Andreas Yilma

By Andreas Yilma New citizens

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials are considering having a mobile bottle and can recycling center for residents.

Waterbury native Mike Stallings, owner of EyeRecycle, a bottle redemption center on Chase River Road in Waterbury, is seeking to collect bottles and cans from residents in the borough and refund half of the amount refunded after making a presentation to the Council of Mayor and Citizens on Tuesday, June 7.

Many plastic and glass bottles as well as aluminum cans can be exchanged for 5 cents each in the state.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the program would be a no-cost project for the borough and could reduce what the municipality pays to USA Hauling and Recycling.

“It gives owners an opportunity to make money from their recycling and have it handled by this company,” Hess said at the meeting.

Stallings said he got the idea when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state and people weren’t buying back their cans and bottles.

EyeRecycle employees reached out to many companies to see what they were doing with their bottles and cans and the first was the XL Center in Hartford which hosts many concerts. Concert hall employees informed Stallings that they were throwing away their bottles.

When Stallings did a rework for them, it amounted to $4,000 in buyouts. The amount of bottles and cans at a concert was bigger than the Hall of Burgess, Stallings added.

Stallings said a bottle has value outside of recycling.

“When I use the word recycle and redeem, those are different because that bottle right there, yes, it’s recyclable but it’s also redeemable,” Stallings said.

Stallings said his company plans to launch a pilot curbside collection program in Torrington in September and hopes to do the same in Waterbury in October. He is also in talks with the city of New Haven.

The company is conducting a pilot pickup for around 300 Waterbury residents in July according to Stallings.

“Essentially what’s happening in Connecticut, these cans and bottles are 5 cents and we’re throwing $25 million a month every year into these bottles and that number is going to double in 2024 to 10 cents. So it’s going to be $50 million every year in the trash because we don’t have the time and it’s not practical,” Stallings said. “So what EyeRecyle does is make it convenient.”

Stallings said it was free because people had already paid for it when they bought the bottle or can.

Torrington presented Stallings with a proposed deal and some adjustments were made afterward, according to Stallings.

Hess asked Stallings to bring a similar deal proposal back to Torrington for the next borough council meeting. There’s a legal issue that borough officials want to make sure doesn’t affect the borough’s contract with USA Hauling and Recycling, Hess added.

Public Works Superintendent Sandra Lucas-Ribeiro said her only concern is that the borough has “pickers” where they walk around and pick up cans and bottles “So residents go get their 2 cents back and you never got their bag back because now you made it really easy for the pickers to go get it,” Lucas-Ribeiro said.

Stallings said that was a concern, but the business would resume within the day to help alleviate that concern. Redemption service company hours of operation would be 1pm to 8pm

Burgess Rocky Vitale asked if the company had contracts with owners and how payment would be made.

Stallings said his company also has no contracts with landlords or companies.

Once the company collects the recyclables, employees count the number, notify customers of the total amount and send a check.

The program has already been tested in a few homes in Waterbury and Watertown, according to Stallings.