Tuckahoe Valley Disposal is one of 15 carriers serving the three municipalities on the Intermunicipal Relations Committee, but it’s not among the few to flout the law by dumping recyclables, according to owner Tobias Nagle.
Recycling is neither easy nor cheap, but in addition to being mandatory in IRC territory, it is part of good ethics and something that “society accepted as important,” said Nagle.
Still, it would be much better if the markets improved, he said.
Decades ago, when it cost $60 or more a ton to drop off garbage, carriers could unload recyclables for free, Nagle said.
Now the cost of depositing garbage or recyclables is virtually the same.
Yet his company is doing what is necessary – relying on trucks that have recycling compartments under their bodies.
Customers must take out their recycling bins every two weeks, so half is collected each week.
Approximately 10% by weight of what Tuckahoe collects is recyclable.
Many customers don’t prepare their bins properly, which adds to the challenge, he said. Workers often find materials like Styrofoam and items like used toilet seats and old shoes in trash cans.
If it’s simple and doable to dispose of contaminants and save recyclables, workers do it, he said. “(But) if we can’t, we don’t.”
Sometimes snow and ice make the bins unmanageable, and they stay put, he said.
He would like to see recycling become a more lucrative proposition through the creation of regional markets for the materials.
As far as he knows, there are no manufacturers in this field who make things from recyclable materials.
As for forcing recycling compliance through single hauler contracts with municipalities, he opposes it.
Single-carrier contracts are counterproductive because they hurt small businesses like his, who are less able to compete for contracts and who would subsequently be less able to support other local businesses and organizations, such as libraries and schools, he said.
According to Brandon Wright, spokesperson for the National Waste and Recycling Association, having a place to sell recyclables is an essential part of a successful system.
The recycling market was damaged a few years ago when the Chinese government halted shipments of recyclable materials from the United States, but the industry has adapted and “we are now at the point where the value of these recyclable materials has returned to what it was”, says Wright.
The market is particularly strong for high quality recycled paper.
The value of plastics ” traced back “ he said.
Glass is another matter, at least partly because of its weight, which increases transportation costs.
Nationally, about one-third of households recycle.
But people have to do it “more intelligent” he said.
Too many materials fall like strings or garlands of Christmas lights or partially full mayonnaise jars or half-filled soda bottles into their recycling bins.
That’s why 25% of what happens to treatment facilities ends up in the trash.
It also explains the damage that can occur when workers miss the wrong things, which can clog processing machines or contaminate the right materials.
The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.