City ponders single-stream, recycling collection

Williamsport officially may join the single-stream recycling bandwagon as early as Thursday night.

That’s when City Council is expected to vote on an amendment of the city recycling ordinance to add single-stream recycling as an option for residents, according to John Grado, city engineer and director of community and economic development.

In June, Lycoming County commissioners put their stamp of approval on a $4.7 million project to bring single-stream recycling equipment to the landfill in Montgomery.

A bid from Green Machine Sales, of Hampstead, N.H., was accepted for equipment and installation of machinery that will allow comingled recyclable materials to be sorted on site at the landfill facility.

The process allows participating area waste haulers to pick up unsorted recyclable materials from residents’ homes.

Grado joined the City Public Works Committee Tuesday along with guest Jason Yorks of the county Resource Management Services, to discuss the trend that has grown in popularity around the nation and is picking up steam locally.

Before the committee gave measure a positive recommendation for council’s approval, a discussion took place about recycling and how recyclables have become a commodity and trash haulers are viewing it as opportunity for business.

The question for Councilman N. Clifford “Skip” Smith, chairman of the committee, was what effect it would have on residents who already pay for hauling trash away. He expressed concerns about the additional costs single-stream recycling collection by haulers who participate would have on the city residents.

“I’m hearing some haulers say they will have to add $10 to $20 costs,” he said. Some haulers are opting out of providing the service, he added.

The county provides for curbside collection of source-separated recycling materials of glass, aluminum and bimetal containers and the city is required to provide curbside collection and will continue this practice under state law, Grado said.

Asked whether the city would have to buy its own truck and start to pick up recyclables should the residential curbside recycling every be phased out, Grado said, “It’s not the intention of the city to buy its own recycling truck should the state determine single-stream recycling fullfills the obligation under recycling law.”

The city ordinance, he said, requires any landlord or agent of an owner or landlord of multi-family housing properties of four or more units to establish a collection system for recycables at each property.

Recently, Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland addressed council saying the county has invested more than $4 million in single-stream technology but is losing vast amounts of money each year by continuing to collect residential curbside recyclables.

Wheeland said the goal, if single-stream collection fulfills the state recycling law requirements, would be to phase it out over time but preserve commercial curbside recyclable collection.

To alleviate fears of immediate change, Grado said as long as the municipality is required under law the county will continue the curbside service.

Under single-stream recycling collection, aluminum beverage containers, plastic containers and newsprint, glass and bimetal containers would be collected by private, licensed haulers.

Curbside recycling by the county would continue, as it has been done in the past, and the city recycling center also would remain open as will the brush and mulch collection site.

The ordinance amendment defines single-stream recycling collection and gives people that option to pursue, Grado said.

The city is required to provide curbside recycling and does it twice a month on three different days in different sections of the city, Grado said.

The amendment requires haulers to provide tonage of recycleable materials collected to the city and the county RMS department keeps that information, he said.

The intention of the city is to provide a larger space for drop off of recyclables. It will be moved west from its site on West Third Street to an area near the Route 15 overpass.

Recyclable materials from residential dwellings are to be placed at the curb or other designated place separate from solid waste collection or taken to a drop-off site.

Materials required to be recycling under multi-stream recycling collection are clear glass, brown glass, green glass and aluminum beverage containers or other recyclable materials designed by the city under its regulations.

Materials under single-stream recycling are aluminum beverage containers, plastic containers, newsprint and other materials identified by the licensed hauler providing service.