Despite the Cost, City Officials Still Encourage Recycling

You think you’re doing the right thing by recycling your plastic milk jug, your cardboard and cans.

Environmentally, you are still doing the right thing, but for cities and towns, it costs more to dispose of recyclable trash as opposed to regular trash.

 When recycling really took off in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, cities and towns made money off recyclables.

Much of the recyclables were shipped to China and other countries for processing, but now the markets are flooded and China has closed their markets entirely.

Superintendent of Public Works Paul Argenzio said that all trickles right back to Revere and it is something to be watched.

“We used to get money back when we recycled paper,” he said. “Now it costs $79 a ton to dispose of recycling as opposed to $72 a ton for regular trash. The bottom has sort of fallen out of the market.”

He added that there are some indicators that other countries are getting into the market

With a total trash and recycling budget of about $4 million the city has to make both programs work.

A Solid Waste/Recycling Enterprise fund of $350,000 was included for the first time in the FY19 budget to help manage the program and start a uniform trash barrel program. Each household is provided one barrel and extra ones cost $75 a barrel.

Revere collects 1,300 tons of trash a month through its hauler Capital Waste and it costs $72 a ton to dispose of it at the Wheelabrator facility in Saugus.

Revere collects 300 tons a month of recycling with a disposal cost of $79 a ton through JRM/Greenworks.

“It’s a Department of Environmental Protection mandate that we recycle,” Argenzio said, adding that DEP wants to see less trash going to landfills and incinerators.

Just being in the industry, Mike Merullo, one of the owners at Capital Waste, said he knows the recycling markets aren’t great.

According to the FY19 city budget, “this escalating cost (of recycling), most notably the increasing and volatile costs of administering and disposing of single stream recycling, has many communities scrambling to fund the costs. In recent years, cities and towns were making money from single stream recycling. It is a frightening reality and the administration is paying close attention to this situation, it was stated in the budget document.”

So what does Revere’s recycling program look like? Revere recycles glass bottles, jars, tubs and plastic microwave trays/containers, caps, lids, pumps, wraps, labels and detergent spouts may be left on. All paper and cardboard must be clean and dry.  Corrugated cardboard, flatten, cut up 3’ x 3’ x 1’ or less, box or bundle, do not use string, if cardboard will not fit into your tote, place beside or under your tote.  Flatten all cardboard, cereal and snack boxes after removing plastic-coated liners.  You can also recycle newspaper, white paper, colored paper, glossy newspaper inserts, brochures, junk mail, manila envelopes, phonebooks (remove covers), envelopes (remove plastic window), and brown paper bags.

“Recycling paper we used to get money back,” Argenzio said. “Years ago we paid nothing to dispose of recyclable materials.”

One of the most popular parts of recycling in Revere is the Pink Bag Program. Fill a special pink bag from DPW with clothing, towels, textile materials, and put it to the curb to recycle and another bag will be left for the next time.

“That program was started in the 1990s and it use to be at the city yard, people would bring clothes and materials themselves,” said Argenzio.

Textile recycling is an area that is making money, Argenzio said. For every ton recycled $20 comes back to the city.

What hurts the recycling program is contaminated recycling, which costs $105 a ton to dispose of.

“People are putting things in the bin that aren’t supposed to be there,” Argenzio said. “The number one culprit is people putting their recyclables in plastic trash bags that can’t be recycled.”

Deb Anemoduris, principal clerk in the DPW, has applied for and received a $40,000 DEP grant. Funds will be used to help educate the public as to how to recycle. There will also be an audit, with workers walking the street inspecting recyclable materials and leaving a sticker telling you what was wrong with your recycle bin.

Another tool for Revere residents is a new app called “Revere Trash”. You can download it to your cell phone. It will send alerts as to when your trash day is, what your recycling day is, you can also learn what can and cannot be recycled and other information.

For more information call 311 or the direct recycle line at 781-286-8314 or under DPW.

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