NEWS

Revision in recycling policy aimed at improving collections

Posted 9/16/21

By JOHN HOWELL Expect to see fewer green and blue recycling bins at street side as part of the city's effort to deal with an aging fleet of sanitation trucks and a lack of parts to repair them. In robocalls, emails and social media posts, Mayor Frank

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NEWS

Revision in recycling policy aimed at improving collections

Posted

Expect to see fewer green and blue recycling bins at street side as part of the city’s effort to deal with an aging fleet of sanitation trucks and a lack of parts to repair them.

In robocalls, emails and social media posts, Mayor Frank Picozzi informed residents this week they will no longer need to place out recycling bins to have their trash picked up. The policy was implemented several years ago as a means to encourage recycling. It worked, but in many cases the bins were only partially filled and some virtually empty over the course of a week.

With people waiting to bring recycling to curbside when a bin is full or close to full, the fleet of collection trucks can reduce stops and the time needed to complete routes. This will also enable drivers of operational trucks to expand their coverage.

Picozzi said Tuesday seven of the city’s 14 trucks were operational. The breakdowns have caused delays in collections with late runs, next day pickups and increased overtime costs. The city has made the collection of trash on the scheduled day a priority, even if it means extending runs into the evening.

“Beginning immediately,” Picozzi writes in a blast email to residents, “I’ve suspended our rule which requires residents to put out their recycling bin in order to have the trash picked up. If you feel that you can get through the week without your recycling bin being emptied, then by all means don’t put it out. Implementation of this plan should dramatically lighten the load for us and enable us to complete our routes faster.”

To further expedite the process, the city started operation of a temporary recycling transfer station at the city compost station behind Mickey Stevens Sports Complex. Trucks dump recyclables on the ground to be hauled later to Rhode Island Resource Recovery in Johnston.

Picozzi is exploring the feasibility of a permanent recycling transfer station so as to reduce wear on city vehicles and speed up collections. He envisions a three-wall steel building that would provide cover for the recyclables.

Michael Healey, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Management, said Monday the city would need to apply for a three-year license and pay a $10,000 application fee.

“The permitting process includes a site assessment, assessment and review of environmental impact, and a six-month statutory process involving full public notice, public meetings, etc., after the application is deemed complete. It is likely to be at least a one-year process before a determination would be made,” Healy wrote in an email.

City Council President Steve McAllister applauded the mayor’s actions Wednesday.

“He’s done an outstanding job of keeping everyone informed,” he said. He said he believes it is important the city “remain flexible,” and while in agreement with the waiver of the policy requiring recycling bins be placed curbside for trash collections, he would like to see the policy re-implemented when possible.

Picozzi is hopeful the delivery of three new trucks this fall will improve collections. But even with them, he notes, the fleet is tired. The three oldest trucks are 12 years old and the two newest are 3 years old.

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