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Borough tweaks recycling program


Petersburg recyclers must exclude glass from their comingled bags beginning November 1 after the Petersburg Borough’s recycling vendor found an excess of glass, along with blue recycling bags in the co-mingled stream.

Petersburg Public Works Director Karl Hagerman said earlier this year the borough’s recycling vendor Republic Services broke apart a recycling bale to determine a breakdown percentage of each recyclable material.

“When we have a large percentage of the blue plastic which is not a valuable commodity as well as the glass which is a low value commodity, because of the effort to separate it by color, it has a negative value towards the comingled stream by quite a bit,” Hagerman said.

Republic Services pays the Petersburg Borough per ton—last month the price was $75 per ton and the borough has never received less than $67 a ton since the recycling program began. But because of the large portion of glass and blue bags, the vendor wanted to lower the rebate value.

“If we don’t get at least $26 a ton for our comingled stream, recycling costs the community more for solid waste disposal and it puts the recycling program in jeopardy,” Hagerman said. “They were going to drop the value of our comingled stream accordingly,” Hagerman said. “Through some negotiation and public discourse we were able to convince Republic Services to maintain a higher level of rebate because this fall and winter we are planning to move to carts.”

Hagerman said the plan to switch from bags to carts will be implemented sometime in January, and the transition should help remove several costs, one of which results from the removal of blue bags from the co-mingled stream and the current program.

The borough won’t have to purchase blue bags that come with a price tag of $30,000 to $35,000 a year. The borough will also drop the $90,000 annual bill from its current recycling collection contractor.

Borough sanitation staff will begin collecting Petersburg’s recycling with a $207,476 truck it purchased earlier in the year. Despite the initial costs, the cart system will be cheaper in the long run, Hagerman said.

“Cost to the department will go down,” Hagerman said. “We’ll pick up expenses on depreciation on the truck, and maintenance and fuel costs and a little more overtime on holidays,” Hagerman said. “The message would be that as long as we can control our costs on the recycling and then sanitation rates won’t go up.”

A rate Hagerman hopes will go up is recycling participation. This year has a seen a two percent decrease in recycling compared to 2014 from 19 to 17 percent. Hagerman said he hopes the cart system will change the dip in recycling rates.

“I’m really hoping when we transition to carts we can put some more effort into promoting the program and letting people realize how much they can put in the cart,” Hagerman said. “You won’t have to go looking for your bag at public works or the library or school offices. You’ll have that cart and it will always be there. There’s no sorting (involved). It an be wheeled out to the curb.”

Glass will still be excluded from the cart system and beginning November 1 should be dropped in the dumpster outside the Public Works office at the end of 2nd Street. There is a separate dumpster there for boxes and bags and Hagerman asks that the public ensures the glass is separated.

The dumpster is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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