Cumberland, Lincoln residents recycled more in 2013

Cumberland, Lincoln residents recycled more in 2013

But profits are down as towns receive smaller checks

Residents of Cumberland and Lincoln recycled more during the fiscal year that closed on June 30, but saw a smaller cash award to their town halls from the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation.

The annual September distribution of statewide recycling profits is down from the $1.94 million of a year ago to $740,000.

For Cumberland, that means a 200-ton increase, up 5.91 percent, yielded $24,881, compared to $64,838 last year.

For Lincoln, the 40-ton increase, a 2.13 percent increase, brought $15,652. Last year, Lincoln picked up a check for $42,296.

Cumberland's increase comes as the entire town changes over to an automated recycling system with larger, roll-out bins that Mayor Daniel McKee had been counting on to boost the town's profit share. Bins had just been rolled out when the fiscal year closed on June 30, so the impact may be greater next year.

While most residents received used recycling bins from Woonsocket last spring, the final bins - new ones - went out to Monastery Heights area residents this past weekend. Those residents also saw their pick-up schedule changed so that trash and recycling are both collected on the same day.

Values for the recyclables fluctuates according to market demand, say Resource Recovery officials, who are quick to point out that diverting waste to recycling is also extending the life of the landfill.

They note, too, that every ton of materials recycled rather than tossed into the landfill saved the communities $32 in tipping fees.

Profit checks are earmarked for reinvestment into the community's recycling programs.

While recycling is now as routine as laundry and cooking in most households, the latest numbers continue to reflect a decline in amounts that began in 2010 when officials said the economic recession led to fewer goods purchased by residents and therefore less stuff recycled.

Cumberland recycled 3,202 tons - 194 pounds per person - this 2013 fiscal year, after hitting a high of 3,826 tons in 2009; 3,341 in 2010, 3,084 in 2011 and 3,024 in 2012.

Lincoln recycled 2,015 tons - 192 pounds per person - in 2013, compared to 2,018 tons in 2009, 2,118 in 2010, 1,996 in 2011 and 1,973 in 2012.

Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond said the town is currently exploring "all possible ways to improve our total numbers."

The administrator noted that Lincoln was one of the first towns to implement a "no bin, no barrel" policy that requires residents to put out recycling bins with trash bins.

Still Almond said, "We need to do better if we are going to preserve our solid waste dumping rates without penalty."

Cumberland officials weren't immediately available to comment.