NP’s recycling efforts show little improvement

NP’s recycling efforts show little improvement

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town saw five recycling loads rejected at Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. in April and May, according to Recycling Coordinator Bob Nascimento, part of a discouraging trend showing little or no improvement in overall efforts to boost local recycling.

The town has been well under its required recycling rate each of the past several years, showing no improvement.

A lack of proper recycling and inflated trash loads cost local taxpayers significant money and do nothing to extend the life of the Johnston landfill, says Mayor Charles Lombardi, who sits on the board of directors for RIRRC.

The Town Council, in renewing a contract with RIRRC as “the only show in town” last week, as Lombardi put it, emphasized the need to do more to crack down on bad recycling.

A new wheeled tote program that went online last November, giving residents one-wheeled carts to throw trash away in, hasn’t seemed to lead to much improvement in recycling efforts in the months since, says Nascimento, despite considerable optimism at the outset.

As Lombardi sees it, the situation is seeing slight improvement with a new grant-funded employee, Jeff Gibbons, helping Nascimento, but the town’s overall number of rejected recycling loads due to trash contamination is up, he told the council.

“We’re going to do whatever we have to,” said Lombardi.

The following are the town’s recycling rates for each of the past five years, according to RIRRC:
• 2014 – 23.4 percent

• 2015 – 22.9 percent

• 2016 – 23.7 percent

• 2017 – 23.7 percent

• 2018 – 23.7 percent

The target rate was over 30 percent for each of those years.

Councilor Ken Amoriggi and others last week emphasized the need for stricter penalties.

Nascimento said he met with the council’s ordinance subcommittee and discussed a plan to fine violators, including an initial warning and then $15 and $50 fines for second and third offenses. Some have asked how the town would collect that money, he said, and it’s simple: “Place a lien on the property.”

Lombardi added that the town “can’t afford to go on like this any longer.” It hasn’t been easy to convince people to recycle, he said, and not picking up trash is also problematic because it leads to more rodents.

“I’m hoping we can get people’s attention, and more importantly their cooperation,” he said.

Council members asked Lombardi if the town could send out an informational flier with the new tax bills being delivered to residents, and the mayor responded that it shouldn’t be a problem. He said the town in the past has placed a notice on tax bills that recycling saves tax dollars.

Nascimento said Gibbons has been traveling around checking recycling bins for compliance. If trash bags are found in with the recycling, he places a sticker on those bins and the owner is told to call the recycling office.

Comments

I think more needs to be done to educate residents as to the rules about recycling. It appears that if truckloads are being turned away, it’s imperitive people know what can and cannot be recycled. I frequently see pizza and soda boxes in recycles bins, both of which are not recyclable. If what the town is doing isn’t working, it only makes sense to add another layer to informing residents as to what’s acceptable. If I may suggest, accentuate what CAN NOT be recycled as well so truck loads do not continue to be turned away, especially when there are many who diligently recycle and now a lot of that material is being dumped at the landfill as trash. Flyers are a good way of sharing information but in this day and age, there are so many more other means by which this message can be shared, ie social media, emails, maybe using the emergency system (not as an emergency), road side billboards, ProJo and the Breeze, to suggest a few...

So Right Allaboutthetruth, education is the biggest component to recycling. It's not just a once a year thing either, has to be weekly, monthly and at every opportunity the community can seize to educate the residents. It has to be a constant learning process that never ends. It also has to be by example too. The community needs to setup recycling at the schools, parks, community centers, public buildings, etc. Schools are big and cracking the code with them is difficult to break into the curriculum to ensure recycling education is a component of the education plan, but so important.

Best wishes.