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New recycling totes headed to county next month

Photos by Tom Rivers: Randy Huff, a driver with Modern Disposal, demonstrates how a Modern garbage truck uses a mechanical arm to grab a tote and empty it into the truck. Huff is shown outside the Murray Town Hall on Saturday. Modern and county officials had two public meetings to show how the new recycling system will work.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 May 2019 at 10:03 am

Recycling pickup will switch from weekly to every 2 weeks starting July 1

MURRAY – Big blue recycling totes are headed to Orleans County residents next month as the county implements changes in its recycling pickup program.

The county contracts with Modern Disposal for the service. That company, beginning July 1, will be picking up recycling every two weeks. Garbage pickup will remain on a weekly schedule.

Residents will be receiving big recycling totes with lids beginning June 10. It will take about three weeks for Rehrig Pacific to deliver them to about 15,000 addresses in the county.

Those new totes can be used right away. They will replace smaller bins that don’t have covers. Residents are welcome to keep the bins which can still be used to hold recycling inside a house and then can easily be dumped into the tote. Or if residents don’t want the bin, they should write “Please take me” and put it to the curb with their garbage and recycling.

Joe Hickman, municipal sales manager for Modern, said the new totes better contain paper, cardboard, plastics and other recycling. Larger cardboard options should be broken down so they don’t get jammed in the totes, he said.

The County Legislature in February approved spending $776,500 for 15,444 recycling carts. Those costs are coming out of the fee in the county taxes for garbage and recycling for residents. The county is seeking a state grant for half of the costs. If the grant comes through, the county will use that to pay off a lease payment it took out to cover half of the expense.

The new carts, at $50.28 each, hold 96 gallons. Rehrig Pacific Company of Erie, Pa. will begin delivering the totes on June 10, and is expected to take three weeks to get them to all the addresses.

Each tote has a number with bar code and an RFID so the totes can be tracked. Residents should write down their totes’ identification numbers to make sure they aren’t mixed up with their neighbors’.

The switch to the larger carts will make it easier for Modern Disposal to pick up recycling, and should hold off increases in the costs for picking up garbage and recycling for the next few years, county officials said.

County Legislator Ken DeRoller, R-Kendall, said the county’s recycling rate is currently 21 percent. That is a low number and he wants to see it go up. Part of the education effort will be encouraging residents to recycle more plastic, paper and metal materials.

He expects the recycling number will increase to 28 percent with the totes, which he said will make recycling easier. The material inside will be less likely to blow away.

Joe Hickman, municipal sales manager for Modern, said that rate is determined by the weight of the recycled divided by the overall weight of the recycling plus garbage that is picked up by Modern.

He encouraged residents to recycle plastics with a focus on food and beverage containers. There have been changes in the recycling program with plastics. Rigid plastics such as buckets and toys are no longer accepted with recycling.

Residents currently use recycling bins that are emptied weekly by Modern. The company has two employees per truck, with a driver and another employee grabbing and emptying the bins. It takes about a minute for each stop in the county.

The 96-gallon totes will have covers that are green. Those totes can be grabbed by a mechanical arm, lifted up and emptied into the recycling truck. The green covers make it clear the totes hold recycling.

Using the mechanical arm allows Modern to have one employee on the truck, reducing the company’s costs. That has prevented a big increase for county residents with the garage and recycling pickup the next five years.

Chuck Nesbitt, the county chief administrative officer, said the switch in recycling will reduce costs in the contract by about $3 million over he next 10 years.

Residents in 2018 paid $212 for annual garbage and recycling collection. The cost will stay about that price for the next few years with the recycling change, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

Without the change, the county would have faced a 10 to 15 percent increase, he said. The County Legislature in October approved a new five-year contract with Modern for garbage and recycling collection. The annual cost is $3,001,495 with the current system of weekly recycling, but drops to $2,707,160 when the new system is fully phased in with the larger recycling totes.

There will be another open house and public information meeting about the recycling change on May 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds, 12690 Route 31, Knowlesville.

Modern has sent newsletters to residents, detailing the changes and the new schedule for pickup. Click here for more information.

“Your day of collection will not change and for example, if your day is Monday it will remain Monday,” the county states on the website. “The difference will be that a portion of Mondays recycling customers will be collected on an ‘A’ week and the balance of the Monday customer will be collected the following week or on the ‘B’ week. This alternating cycle continues week after week, month after month.”

Modern employees met with residents inside the Murray highway garage to discuss the recycling program on Saturday. Modern also met with residents at the Shelby Town Hall. There will be another public meeting for residents to learn about the recycling program at the 4-H Fairgrounds on May 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.

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