Recycling may get easier and cheaper

MILFORD – How can putting all your recyclable garbage in one container improve the town’s recycling rate?

Find out at 5:30 p.m. today, when Public Works Director Bill Ruoff will explain why the town is looking into joining the Concord Regional Solid Waste/Resource Recovery Cooperative.

Town officials are considering a plan that would involve delivering all the town’s recyclables to a yet-to-be-built, multi-town recycling center in Concord.

Because the proposed center is a “single-stream” facility where the materials would be mechanically sorted and processed, Milford residents wouldn’t have to separate their recyclables. The town would send everything to the center in single containers.

It’s unclear at this point whether joining the cooperative will save the town any money, but officials say it would undoubtedly increase the town’s recycling rate by making it easier to recycle.

“The co-op contract would mean committing to moving to single-stream recycling and delivering all our recyclables to the co-op,” said Town Administrator Guy Scaife.

The cooperative wants Milford and other towns to join because it plans to build a new recycling center on 40 acres near the Wheelabrator incinerator in Penacook, a village in Concord.

The $13 million, 60,000-square-foot facility would use state-of-the-art technology to sort recyclables on site.

“The co-op is looking for no capital investment from Milford,” said the cooperative’s president Jim Presher.

Rather, the 27-town cooperative is looking for more towns and cities to join, because it needs to process 25,000 tons of recyclables a year to be sustainable, and co-op members only produce between 12,000 and 15,000 tons per year.

It is talking to communities as far away as Lebanon and North Hampton, Prescher said.

Recycling with single-stream is “much simpler for homeowners,” he said. There are only two containers, one for recyclables – including newspaper, paper, glass, aluminum, plastics – and the other for nonrecyclable solid waste.

Single stream means more convenience for homeowners and “huge savings,” for commercial enterprises, such as restaurants and apartment complexes, Presher said.

Goffstown and Hooksett are considering joining the co-op, said Presher. Milford, the only town in the Souhegan Valley seriously considering the plan, now has a multi-stream program and homeowners do most of the sorting.

Scaife said selectmen will discuss it and then make the final decision.

“It’s strictly an operational consideration,” he said. “There will be no quick decision. Under single stream we would get less revenue, but it will be less expensive,” said Scaife, who could not provide any cost/revenue projections for the proposal.

Single stream would mean changes at the transfer station, and Ruoff said he, the town administrator and the transfer station staff are working on that aspect.

“Most importantly, it will increase our recycling rate,” Scaife said.

Milford’s rate is about 26 percent, which is low compared to other towns, largely because there are so many multi-family housing units.

Formed in 1985, the Concord Regional Solid Waste/Resource Recovery Cooperative built a $48 million waste-to-energy plant in the mid-1980s, and that is where Milford currently sends its solid waste.

The Concord Planning Board is scheduled to begin reviewing the recycling center this month.