two thousand twenty
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SUBMITTED by Marjorie Torelli, Western Finger Lakes Solid Waste Management Authority (28-Feb-2011)

Twenty years ago at the end of a typically cold, snowy February, Wayne County began its curbside recycling program, bringing Blue Boxes to homes throughout the county. It was an unlikely time of year to start a recycling program that depended on people setting out fragile containers on the roadside where they were prone to blow away in lake-effect winds or be hit by prevalent snow plows. Still, the Western Finger Lakes Authority and the collection companies under contract for collection forged ahead. And Wayne County residents responded with enthusiasm. The fervor for recycling continues even now.

Wayne County residents can be very proud of their long-term, consistent recycling. After participating regularly in the program for so many years, they remain faithful. The recycling truck drivers who previously worked in other counties and now collect in Wayne County have commented about the quantity and the quality of materials they collect. One company even had to plan for more and larger trucks to collect the recycling.

“It is not easy to quantify the recycling that has been collected throughout the county for 20 years and put it into terms that any person who fills a couple of Blue Boxes every week can understand,” said Marjorie Torelli, public relations coordinator for the Western Finger Lakes Authority. “How do you picture that much recycling when most people can only relate to a couple of Blue Boxes?” People can relate to the fact that they need far less for trash service once they begin recycling the full list of materials.

Summarizing the amount of materials for the county is more difficult. The tonnage that has been shipped since 2000 from the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is over 62,000 tons. Each tractor trailer that leaves the MRF with recyclable materials can hold about 42 tons so that means about 1,500 trucks of recyclable materials have left Wayne County over the last 10 years.

Another way to look at the recycling is to think about the amount that has not gone into local landfills. Landfills often quantify the amount being disposed of in terms of cubic yards. Torelli was able to calculate that around 175,000 cubic yards of materials were diverted from local landfills since 2000.

Again, it is very difficult to visualize that many trucks or cubic yards. How big is a cubic yard? A square that is 3 feet on each side is a cubic yard, more stuff than would fit comfortably in a family’s mini van. Nearly 200,000 cubic yards is a lot of mini vans.

Another way to think of the recycling is to put some numbers to the environmental benefit of collecting all those materials and sending them to make new products. Even figuring for the amount of pollution from the transportation, recycling makes a huge difference in numbers of trees still standing, amounts of pollution not created, and energy not used. The National Recycling Coalition provides a calculator to quantify the benefits of recycling.

Using the figures from recycling that went through the Western Finger Lakes Authority MRF in 2010, the figures are staggering even for only one year. Through the recycling that Wayne County households did, it is the equivalent of removing almost 2,500 cars from the roads as far as reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of energy savings, recycling saved the equivalent of nearly 1,000 houses. The savings in air and water pollution are over 2,000 tons and 22 tons respectively. Finally, because of newspaper, office paper and cardboard recycled, over 35,000 trees were saved. Since yearly recycling figures have remained generally steady, those figures can be multiplied by 10 to figure the benefits just since 2000 or by 20 for the 20 year benefit.

Recycling systems in Wayne County changed in 2011, but the positive benefits of recycling are still strong. Every ton of materials that are saved from the landfill creates new products that we purchase in stores, saves energy and reduces pollution.

If you have questions about recycling in Wayne County, please contact the Western Finger Lakes Authority, 1.800.724.3867, mtorelli@co.wayne.ny.us.


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5 Comments to "20 Years of Curbside Recycling"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    Last week I watched as my trash hauler put my recyclables in the proper bib in his truck. I then went into my house. Looking out the window I watched as he looked up and down the street and put my neighbor's recyclables in to the trash bin.

    Posted on Tue Mar 01, 06:31:00 AM EST

  2. Anonymous Said,

    Leave the poor trash haulers alone, If you are so worried why not haul you recyclables out to the recycle center or is that an inconvience for you?

    Posted on Tue Mar 01, 10:47:00 AM EST

  3. Anonymous Said,

    yes, in todays world it is a inconvience for working families to add another chore of hauling recycling somewhere. Curb side recycling worked best for all and our haulers have agreed to do this. So we expect it.

    I have seen my D and L hauler show up in a different truck for recycling. I only hope the right thing is being done.

    We as a society need to be responible for a sustainable society not for our short sighted lives but, those of our children.

    I wonder how poor the trash haulers are?

    Posted on Tue Mar 01, 05:36:00 PM EST

  4. Anonymous Said,

    Why don't you ride on that truck 5 days a week especially this winter. How much do you think those workers make anyway? Also ride around sometime and see how alot and I mean alot of people throw stuff outside the container and expect these guys to pick it up. I have seen chairs, bags and bags of god knows what just thrown in the snow banks, even an old snowblower recently. Do you think these guys get paid extra for all this extra junk? All this in below freezing temperature and thow on top of it people peeking out their windows making sure they put all the recyclables in the right spot and see how long you would last.

    Posted on Tue Mar 01, 11:21:00 PM EST

  5. Anonymous Said,

    Exactly. People have no idea the crap haulers go threw, especially the smaller ones. I agree if people rode with them for a week I promise you they wouldnt say another bad thing and I also believe they would change their ways. And as for the recycling, the people for 20 years have been allowed to throw anythng and everything into those blue boxes, and now that the haulers ask them to perhaps change their ways, you would think they were asking you to cut off your arm! Old habits are hard to break, and like I have said before, the authority shoved it on them (the haulers) and got away with alot of BS and now the haulers are paying the price. You watch, the MRF wont be open for long, rumors are already going around that its going to close.... then what people?

    Posted on Thu Mar 03, 04:26:00 PM EST


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