By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN - Recycling pays and North Kingstown has received a big fat check because of it.
Last week, Michael O’Connell, Executive Director for the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), distributed $1,866,562 to 39 cities and towns for profits from the sale of recyclables.
North Kingstown received $63,838.95 and those funds will be used to offset amenities at the town’s transfer station, including the containers in which residents can drop their recyclables off for free and for the free use of compost.
“We are delighted to announce that the profit-sharing checks are about triple in size compared with last year,” O’Connell said in a press release. “The recycling markets performed very well in 2010 and early 2011, which translates to more dollars that RIRRC can share among our municipal partners. Better still, the improved performance by the municipalities helped to prolong the life of the Central Landfill and divert valuable recyclables from being buried there.”
“That compost makes things grow fast,” laughed North Kingstown Recycling Coordinator Kim Jones. “It’s nice that we can offer residents free services. North Kingstown is unique in that we’re the only town that offers pick-up recycling curbside.”
The program creates a recycling contract between cities and towns and the RIRRC. Whatever the profit is, 50 percent goes to the city or town it originated from and 50 percent goes to the RIRRC.
Shares are determined by the amount of recycled tonnage trucked to the Materials Recycling Facility in Johnston during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. Cumulatively, the cities and towns in Rhode Island delivered 92,499 tons of recycling to RIRRC.
All recycling commodities except glass experienced a strong year with very few seasonal dips. Last year, the average value of recyclables collected in Rhode Island was $20 per ton, compared with $7.80 per ton in FY10.
In 2008, North Kingstown collected 2,953 tons of recycled trash. In 2010, that amount increased to 3,474 tons. This year, it was down slightly to 3,164 tons.
“I want to encourage residents to keep up what they’re doing,” Jones said. “Some people who miss a pick-up become discouraged and then begin throwing recyclables in the trash. But we need to keep doing this.”
Previous contracts that cities and towns had with the RIRRC had language that stated municipalities were “encouraged” to use the profit towards recycling efforts, though nothing officially stated what the money had to be used for.
Jones explained that, sometimes, the money would get deposited in a city or town’s General Fund and it wouldn’t be used for the original purpose.
Beginning in Fiscal Year 2012, however, municipalities will be allowed to spend the profit-sharing funds specifically for recycling efforts.
“With the new recycling rules just months away, this is a perfect time to earmark these funds toward educational efforts to further boost recycling participation and volume,” said O’Connell.
Exeter received $13,000.13 and Jamestown received $15,095.35.
Beginning in June 2012, the state will be switching to a “single stream” method of recycling. A new scanning system will be in effect and will allow residents to put all recyclables in one bin with no separation of paper and plastics. Currently, the only plastics that are recyclable are from categories one and two.
When the new scanning system goes into affect, plastics from one through seven will be accepted.
Many plastic jars, containers and other items contain the recycling logo with a number in the middle and letters underneath. The logo was initiated by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988 to allow people to tell the difference between types of plastics when sorting. The letters stand for the grade of plastic.
The following is a list from greenlivingtips.com that explains seven different types of plastics.
n 1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE): Includes soda bottles, water bottles and many common food packages These products are recycled into bottles and polyester fibers.
n 2 – High density Polyethylene (HDPE): Mostly used for packaging detergents, bleach, milk containers, hair care products and motor oil. These products are recycled into more bottles or bags.
n 3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC):
These products are everywhere and include pipes, toys, furniture and packaging. PVC is difficult to recycle and poses a major environmental and health threat.
n 4 – Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE): These products are used for many different kinds of wrapping, grocery bags and sandwich bags and can be recycled into more of the same.
n 5 – Polypropylene (PP):
This includes clothing, bottles, tubs and ropes. These products can be recycled into fibers.
n 6 – Polystyrene (PS): This includes cups, foam food trays, and packing peanuts. Polystyrene (also known as styrofoam) is a real problem because it’s bulky yet very lightweight, and that makes it difficult to recycle. For example, a carload of expanded polystyrene would weigh next to nothing so there are not a lot of materials to reclaim, particularly when you take into account the transport getting it to the point of recycling. It can, however, be reused.
n 7 – Other:
This could be a mixture of any and all of the above or plastics not readily recyclable such as polyurethane. Avoid it if you can - recyclers, generally speaking, don’t want it.
Located in Johnston, R.I., Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation is the quasi-state environmental agency that manages nearly all of the state’s municipal and commercial solid waste. RIRRC owns and operates a materials recycling facility, which processes more than 92,000 tons of recyclables annually, and the Central Landfill, which disposes approximately 750,000 tons of solid waste annually.