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Concord launches single-stream recycling

Beginning next week, Concord residents won’t have to sort their recyclables.

The city’s contractor for trash and recycling will now take all recyclables to a single-stream facility, said General Services Director Chip Chesley.

The new program was approved by the city’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee on Wednesday. On Monday, residents can begin placing all of their recyclables into one bin for curbside collection.

Bestway Disposal Services, which recently merged with Casella Waste Services, offered to provide single-stream recycling at no additional cost to the city, Chesley said.

City Councilor Keith Nyhan, chairman of the solid waste advisory committee, said it’s “a nice move forward” to offer single-stream recycling.

“So from our standpoint, it’s a very easy thing for us to endorse,” he said.

Bestway began quietly testing single-stream recycling in parts of Concord last year, said Archie St. Hilaire, the former president of Bestway who now works in municipal services for Casella. The recyclables are taken to a processing facility in Belmont before they’re delivered to a recycling plant in Boston.

St. Hilaire said single-stream, or zero-sort recycling, is “where everybody’s heading, I think, in the long run.”

That reasoning factored into the City Council’s decision last year to pull out of a planned regional single-stream recycling plant.

“I think this is what a lot of people . . . did say when the co-op was considering doing a single-stream plant, is that the free market is going to take care of itself,” Nyhan said. “And what we see here, is it’s obviously more affordable and more cost effective.”

St. Hilaire hopes recycling will increase in Concord because the new system is easier for residents. About 38 percent of Concord’s waste is now recycled; St. Hilaire hopes that rate can increase to more than 40 percent.

Since Concord began curbside recycling pickup in 2009, it has used dual-stream recycling. Residents were asked to separate cardboard and paper from cans and bottles. St. Hilaire said Bestway previously took dual-stream recyclables to a facility in Hooksett.

With single-stream collection, the following items can be placed in the same bin:

∎ Cardboard

∎ Paper

∎Cans and bottles

∎ Glass

∎ Aluminum

∎ Aerosol cans

∎ Waxed milk and juice cartons

Styrofoam and plastic bags cannot be collected through curbside recycling.

The recycling plant that the city rejected last year would have been built in Penacook, by the Concord Regional Solid Waste/Resource Recovery Cooperative. The co-op’s 25 member communities voted to end that plan last May, after Concord pulled out over concerns for its financial viability.

Concord’s contract with the regional co-op for trash collection will expire at the end of 2014. The city plans to release a request for proposals for trash collection, and Chesley said officials will consider other options while negotiating with the co-op.

Also on Wednesday, the Solid Waste Advisory Committee voted to keep the cost of the city’s pay-as-you-throw trash bags the same for the next fiscal year. Each 30-gallon bag costs $2, and a 15-gallon bag costs $1. The prices have not increased since the program began in 2009.

Nyhan said the cost of trash collection increases every year, but the committee decided against increasing the price of bags.

“We’re going to hold off this year, but it’s certainly plausible to think it could go up next year,” he said.

City officials have also discussed whether merchants should be permitted to charge convenience fees for the purple pay-as-you-throw bags. Currently, businesses sell the bags as a public service and do not earn a profit.

Chesley said officials will begin discussions with merchants, some of whom have said it’s difficult to continue stocking the bags at no cost.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Does anyone remember what the PAYT bag fees were for? I thought it was for the recycling facility we pulled out of; but is that wrong?

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