Recycling and New Rules Take Hold in Huntington

Trash rules

The Town Huntington is entering its fourth month or major changes in its recycling program instigated by decisions made thousands of miles away in China. Not everyone is happynew rules.

In January, Huntington, like several other towns on Long Island, abandoned its single-source recycling program, which enabled residents to toss paper, plastic and glass out at one time. With that policy, however, came wet cardboard, mirrors, sauce-stained pizza boxes and plastic bags. Residents are encouraged to wash glass jars, bottles, plastic bottles, and food and beverage cans.

When Huntington returned to the collection of recycling by content, new rules came too. Among them: Cardboard is supposed to be crushed and tied up. No plastic bags and no putting recycling in bags, and no low bins/totes as containers for trash. Required are two decals on trash cans converted for recycling and lids on containers.

The last requirement has galled at least one resident who noted that the lid to his recycling bin was crushed by a car after a sanitation worker threw it into the street during a previous pickup. Now he has to buy a new container. Others have complained about boxes of recycling not being picked up on the right day.

Lauren Lembo, a spokeswoman for the town, said, “The only two rules being strictly enforced with the new policy are: carters are not picking up any recycling put out in plastics bags, as the bags get caught in and damage the recycling facility machinery, and carters are leaving behind items left out on the wrong week. Since we are back to dual-stream for the purpose of keeping paper clean (and away from the food/drink/liquid residue left on plastics, bottles and cans), the carters will only pick up the appropriate curbside product on the assigned pickup day – if they are picking up plastics they will leave paper behind and if they are picking up paper they will leave plastics behind. If items left curbside have both paper and plastic intermingled, that will also be left behind.”

“The Town receives $15/ton for clean paper. The lids keep the paper clean and dry, as soiled/moldy paper is not recyclable and incurs a cost of $78/ton to process. Lids also keep lightweight plastics, bottles and cans from flying away in windy conditions but the enforcement is being phased in on the lid issue, the quality of the curbside collection really is more about the paper, due to the costs involved (wet paper gets moldy and then the cost to process it skyrockets), ” she said.  “Flattening corrugated cardboard makes it easier to collect and process, and if it cannot fit in the container it is fine to leave it next to the container, so the flattening and tying this is more of a best practice and will keep it from flying away.”

Huntington avoided one problem encountered by other towns that attempted to ban glass recycling entirely. Towns that dropped glass from recycling programs late last year will have to analyze the costs associated with the change or restart glass collection, according to a letter sent by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and statements from state officials, Newsday reported. Brookhaven, Smithtown and Oyster Bay eliminated glass from their curbside collections late last year when they ended their single-stream recycling programs.

But Huntington continues to accept glass on bottle, can and plastic collection days.


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