So, you want your trash picked up. Well, then, you better recycle.
That’s the message the city intends to get out in coordination with a new program being launched by the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation the week of June 12. And to make recycling even easier, no longer will it be required to separate paper from bottles, cans and plastics. A green cart at roadside will work as good as a blue one regardless of the week. But in order for the city to empty the black trash cart, you must also put out a green or blue one.
If that sounds confusing, the city hoped to make it clear by sending out postcards informing residents prior to the Resource Recovery mailing giving a broader overview of the program. That’s not the way it worked out, however.
According to the mayor’s office, the mailing house handling the state mailer got ahead of itself and pre-empted the city notice. Now the office is getting calls questioning how it’s all going to work.
Some people are questioning which of the two carts they should put at curbside and why, after separating recyclables, the state would want to mix them.
“I don’t see how it is going to help us,” Mayor Scott Avedisian said yesterday.
He noted that already Warwick has one of the highest rates of recycling in the state and that the system has gained widespread acceptance. Nonetheless, in an effort to increase recycling even more, the city will implement a policy that it won’t pick up trash unless there is also a green or blue cart, too. What the city doesn’t want is for people to put out both recycling carts on the same day.
“This is the time to do it [increase recycling],” Avedisian said.
That may be so, but it doesn’t have David Picozzi happy.
The acting director of Public Works says Warwick has a “well oiled machine” and “this is going to throw a wrench in it.”
Picozzi fears people will put recyclables in cardboard boxes, which the city’s automated trucks are not equipped to pick up. Another concern is that people will now put both green and blue carts on the same day. If that were to happen, city trucks wouldn’t have the capacity to make all the collections without extending the day and deliveries to Resource Recovery in Johnston.
“We have the best system in [the] state and [I] hope it doesn’t get screwed up with co-mingling. I see nothing but problems. I don’t see what the gain is for them,” Picozzi said.
The state mailer, which includes a refrigerator magnet with the information, gives a breakdown of what should and what should not be recycled. On the “don’t” list are plastic bags, scrap metal, plastic containers larger than 2 gallons, clothing, Styrofoam, light bulbs and broken glass and household hazardous waste.
Sarah Kite, spokeswoman for Resource Recovery, said the decision to co-mingle recyclables came after a lengthy study including the feedback from municipalities. She said the existing system was nearing the end of its useful life and that newer technologies will enable the state to separate the mixed stream of recyclables. The corporation has invested $16.9 million in the system with the aim of increasing efficiency as well as recyclables by retracting more from the waste stream.
She said that sorters and pickers won’t lose their jobs and will be transitioned into quality control personnel. The system is up and running as of this week and will be the focus of a press conference next Wednesday.
Kite said the mixed system should also serve to improve Warwick efficiency, as fuller carts will be collected.
She also said the system should help provide people an easy way to recycle. She said people “don’t stash, but trash” recyclables when they don’t have a place to put them. The system provides for the recycling of a new wide range of plastics, including jars, tubs, take out containers, yogurt containers and plastic egg containers that were formerly destined for the landfill.