reports that an increasing number of cities and towns in New Hampshire are turning to mandatory or incentive-based recycling programs to increase participation and avoid expensive solid waste removal costs.

Three Seacoast communities are among the best in the state at keeping recyclables out of their solid waste stream â?” Portsmouth, Exeter and Newmarket. Portsmouth has a mandatory recycling program and Exeter and Newmarket have pay-as-you-throw programs, which require residents to pay per trash bag collected. Recycling rates for Seacoast towns in 2006

The state average recycling rate for 2006 was 20.6 percent, which is the percentage of recyclable material kept out of landfills. In total, municipal solid waste budgets amount to more than $100 million in the state. The Department of Environmental Services estimates a municipal budget can be reduced by $1 million for every 1 percent increase in the rate.

Donald E. Maurer, supervisor of solid waste technical assistance for the state DES, said the cost of disposing solid waste â?” averaging $75 per ton â?” is forcing more communities to find ways to decrease that budget line.

“Some towns pay more for solid waste than the fire department,” Maurer said. “Something about that isn‘‘t right.”

Maurer said 46 towns in the state have pay-as-you-throw programs, and 10 are actively considering it. Residents of those towns pay an average of $1.50 per bag, which provides incentive to use as few as possible and recycle whatever they can.

“We‘‘re beginning to see it more and more. We‘‘ve had more towns than ever look at pay-as-you-throw,” Maurer said. “It‘‘s a positive program because it encourages people to recycle to save money.”

The cost of disposing solid waste has steadily increased since the 1970s when the price was $15 per ton. Maurer said New England‘‘s rates are higher than anywhere in the country because there are fewer landfills. At one point, there were 500 landfills in the state and now there are nine.

In addition to the cost avoidance of removing recyclables from the waste stream, Maurer said communities can take a chunk out of their budgets by selling the recyclables to vendors.

Exeter has made residents pay per trash bag for 16 years to promote recycling and save money. All residents now recycle on varying levels, but the program has not seen its full potential, according to Town Manager Russell Dean, because budget constraints have prohibited it from expanding to the business community.

There was some resistance to the program early on and every few years there is a petitioned warrant article on the town ballot, asking voters to discontinue the program. But the articles fail every time and the program continues to work, according to Dean.

“Exeter was on the cutting edge of pay-as-you-throw,” Dean said. “I think it‘‘s been a very successful program. I think the residents have really bought into it. There‘‘s always been a lot of attention paid to recycling in Exeter.”

Maurer said pay-as-you-throw has proven most effective because it does not force people to recycle.

“People with mandatory recycling tend not to like it,” he said. “And then trash becomes a bit of a sensitive issue.”

The city of Portsmouth implemented mandatory recycling in January 2003 with much debate and some resistance, but has ultimately been successful in its efforts. The savings in 2006 approached $500,000, according to City Manager John Bohenko, by keeping recyclables out of the Rochester landfill.

Portsmouth solid waste coordinator Silke Psula said there was a transition phase where there was some leniency to ease residents into the program. But after two years, they got tough and refused to p

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #42-2006-October 19, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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