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Vote delayed on new recycling system

Posted by Tom Coakley  June 9, 2010 12:25 PM

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With a near-empty hearing room before them, selectmen decided to postpone a vote on changing the way the town recycles until next week, when they will have read the contracts.

But the board expressed support for the change, according to Chairwoman Betsy DeWitt.

Under the system proposed Tuesday night, Brookline residents would stop sorting paper and plastic as early as October, and instead dump all recyclables into one large, covered cart with wheels.

Called single-stream recycling, the program has the advantage of keeping stray papers, crushed soda bottles and other small items from blowing about the streets. It’s also more convenient, said Andrew Pappastergoin, commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

The program as proposed will initially cost the town $565,000 for the carts, which will come in 35, 64, and 94-gallon sizes. Some of that should be refunded by state grant money, Pappastergoin said.

As the program is currently estimated, it will also cost about $75,000 a year more than if the town stayed with the current system, according to estimates put together by the DPW.

But because the current, dual-stream system is being phased out, Pappastergoin recommended that the town switch over this year, when the contract for recycling is being renewed, rather than wait.

“I’m not sure we could get a bid on dual-stream,” he said. “People tell me its going away.”

Further, his department’s estimates of future reduction in solid waste (because recycling would be made easier), are “conservative,” he said, at 10 percent. “If it increases to, say 12 percent, the extra costs are reduced to zero.”

Newton and parts of Boston already practice single-stream recycling, and have seen recycling rates rise and solid waste tonnage, which is more expensive to dispose of, drop.

Brookline residents currently recycle at a rate of about 42 percent, according to DPW figures. Residents would be issued a 64-gallon cart, unless they request a 94- or 35-gallon size, according to Pappastergoin.

Andreae Downs can be reached at andreaedowns@yahoo.com.


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