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Springville Village Board members question potential new recycling program

Photo by Kellen M. Quigley Springville village trustee Nils Wikman (right) holds up a piece of cardboard that he said could be questionable for pick-up under new guidelines for a potential recycling program in the village.

Photo by Kellen M. Quigley
Springville village trustee Nils Wikman (right) holds up a piece of cardboard that he said could be questionable for pick-up under new guidelines for a potential recycling program in the village.

By Kellen M. Quigley

In its first meeting of the new year, the village of Springville Board of Trustees had plenty to say about a new potential recycling program for the community, specifically whether new recycling receptacles would be a smart investment.
The board members spent about 30 minutes Monday discussing the possibility of accepting a nearly $60,000 grant to purchase about 1,300 65-gallon totes for village residents to begin using for their recycling.
“I think it’s a good move, and I think it will encourage our residents to recycle more and recycle in the proper way, and that is the right thing to do,” said Mayor William Krebs.
Ultimately, the village trustees decided to table accepting the grant until the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 22.
“All recycling would then be in the totes only and picked up on a bi-weekly basis,” said Liz Melock, the village administrator. “The (state Department of Environmental Conservation) grant should cover the estimate given to us.”
The new receptacles would be issued to residents and property owners who contract garbage pick-up through the village. Melock said only about 40 don’t go through the village, and if those property owners want recycling pick up they would have to use village program.
“The recyclables will include only those items on that list that we sent out, which has been changing year to year, almost,” said Mayor William Krebs.
However, the new receptacles would come with new guidelines as to what exactly is and is not accepted for recycling, something some board members felt might not be worth dealing with.
“There’s policy and there’s practice, and I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to find the file to follow the guidelines Waste Management as put out for us,” said village trustee Nils Wikman. “The ambiguities of the thing, I don’t know what I should put in the thing or not, and that’s becoming problematic.”
Wikman said showed the board and meeting attendees several items that may or may not be accepted under the guidelines, such as padded envelopes, brown cardboard with tape on it, corrugated cardboard and boxes with plastic on it.
“I don’t want us to buy 1,200 65-gallon totes and have (Waste Management) drive by all of them because they’re not compliant,” he said. “It’s an educational process at the very least.”
Superintendent Ken Kostowniak said the village applied for the grant about three years ago. He said the grant changed from helping pay for refuse pick-up equipment, but because the village has its own dump facility, the recycling totes were the only thing the grant could be used for.
“This is a DEC grant village-wide so the people who live in our community are encouraged to recycle,” he added.
Board trustee Alan Chamberlain said he agrees that they should do everything they can do encourage better recycling in the village, but he’s unsure about some of the confusing aspects of the program, such as how contaminated totes would be handled.
Melock said the current contract with Waste Management reads that if there’s any contaminants among the recyclables, then the tote is left unemptied.
“Right now people aren’t really recycling,” Krebs said. “If we have this negative thing that nothing counts, then we’re never going to recycle.”
Krebs said in the new contract, a recycling component would be built in no matter what, and so the question is whether the totes paid for by the grant would encourage residents to recycle or not.
Kostowniak said when talking with other municipalities, the pros of the program and having the totes outweigh the negatives.
“You buy 1,300 people a tote for $30, that’s a pretty good deal even if all the garbage goes in it and it becomes a garbage can,” he said. “It’s still a container with wheels on it.”
Krebs added that it’s important for the village to explain the importance of recycling to the residents and to be proactive about it.
The village board decided they would try invite a representative from Waste Management to attend the next regular meeting and answer any questions the trustees might have.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 22 upstairs in the control center.

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