Op Ed: A Good Year for Recycling in Tompkins County

The more you reduce, reuse, recycle, rebuy, the less you spend on garbage disposal...

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Tompkins County Solid Waste logo

Guest Viewpoint By Geoff Dunn via The Ithaca Journal, 1/23/13

As we settle into a new year, the Tompkins County Solid Waste Management Division would like to thank you for recycling, highlight some of last year’s accomplishments and give you an idea of what we have planned in the months ahead.

2012 was the first full year of operation with upgrades to the Recycling and Solid Waste Center (RSWC) on Commercial Avenue in Ithaca. They expanded our ability to divert an ever-increasing amount of material from the county waste stream. This was done by adding a “Recycling Market” to the public drop-off area, providing more covered bays, purchasing processing equipment, improving signage and traffic flow, and separating residential and commercial traffic. Charlotte-based ReCommunity has been operating the RSWC since February 2011. Late last year, the county received notification of a grant award from the state Department of Environmental Conservation that will provide reimbursement for half of the construction cost.

The Solid Waste Division developed and implemented a plan to launch a food-scrap recycling program in 2012, including a drop-off location at the RSWC. This year, the processing of food scraps and other organic materials will be expanded with the help of a $200,000 state grant and a contract with Cayuga Compost of Trumansburg. Cayuga Compost currently processes material from more than 140 local businesses and organizations. A mini-pilot curbside pickup program to cover about 300 homes will be initiated in 2013.

Work associated with a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant was completed that led to expansion of single-stream and food-scrap recycling in rural mobile home parks and apartment complexes. The effort was highlighted in the national trade publication Waste Age.

A five-year contract was awarded last year to Casella Waste Management Services for countywide residential curbside collection of recyclables, and expansion of service to apartment complexes and small businesses. At the same time, our outreach efforts in 2012 focused on promoting single-stream recycling and raising awareness of the additional materials that can either be left for curbside collection or brought to the Recycling and Solid Waste Center for free.

In 2013, our outreach efforts will continue to focus on making the public aware of the increasing amount and types of material that can be brought to the RSWC, with a focus on food scraps recycling. We plan to be out and about with fun and educational demonstration projects and plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Remember, the more you reduce, reuse, recycle and rebuy, the less you’ll spend on garbage disposal.

Finally, we’re very excited about changes coming to www.RecycleTompkins.org. We launched the first phase of the enhancements in 2012, and we’ll add several new features in the months ahead.

We welcome comments and questions; call 273-6632.

Dunn is the communications and administrative coordinator for the Tompkins County Solid Waste Division.

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