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BPU Looking To Eliminate Glass Recycling

With customers looking for cardboard and plastic to be scheduled more frequently for curbside pickup, the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities is looking to eliminate glass recycling.

The board approved a resolution this week requesting that the Jamestown City Council revise sections 160 and 224 of the city code to remove glass from the list of mandatory recyclable materials and to alter the time for customers to place sanitation and recyclable materials at the curb to 4 p.m. instead of the current 6 p.m.

On Tuesday, Dave Leathers, BPU general manger, told The Post-Journal there are two reasons why BPU officials are looking to remove glass from the recycling program. He said one reason is it’s an expense to the solid waste division because it costs money to pick up the glass recycling and then transport it for disposal. The second reason is that even with a spread out pickup time, which is usually 8 to 10 weeks apart, customer participation is low.

“There are a lot fewer orange bins out on glass weeks then other weeks, which is taking away from picking up other recyclables more often,” he said.

“The amount (of glass) we are picking up in a given year, it’s less and less justified. This is giving us an opportunity to pick up cardboard and plastic more frequent. We get more comments about that than glass.”

Leathers said for people still wanting to recycle glass, he said customers can transport it to the county transfer station in Falconer. He said despite the inconsistency of the recycling market, BPU officials aren’t looking to eliminate any other recycling materials, even though metal might be looked at more closely in the future. He added that BPU officials want to promote recycling, but it needs to be economical.

“We don’t want people to think they don’t have to recycle anymore. There is no desire to do that,” he said. “We’re really focused on that recycling is important. We want to support that as much as we can, the best we can.”

Leathers said the change to single-commodity recycling in the second half of 2019 has improved the cost to the BPU for disposing of recycled materials. He said because the BPU used to be one of the only entities doing dual-stream recycling — with plastic and metals combined as well as paper and cardboard — that “it was awkward” for disposal businesses to accept.

“No others were doing what we were doing,” he said.

Leathers said the recycling market is very volatile. For example, in recent months the BPU hasn’t been paying the county to dispose of cardboard and paper. However, in May 2019, BPU officials were paying $88 a ton to dispose of cardboard and paper.

“In recent months, that has been the case, but that can change,” Leathers said.

On Monday, Marie Carrubba, BPU board member and Ward 4 councilwoman, thanked the BPU staff for changing to an earlier time to set sanitation and recyclable materials at the curb because she knows of several senior citizens who want to follow the BPU guidelines, which leads them to leaving items for pickup on the terrace after dark and sometimes after ice has formed on sidewalks and driveways.

Leathers said BPU officials will address the council about the changes during its Monday, Dec. 7, work session.

In other BPU business, the board approved the 2021 wastewater division budget with no rate increase. Last month when Kelly Hawkins, BPU finance and customer accounts manager, presented the draft budget for the wastewater division, there was a projected 2% increase in rates. Leathers said the staff worked during the last month to eliminate the need for a rate increase in 2021.

The board also approved the 2021 water division budget, which also included no rate increase.

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