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Sandwich makes the switch to single-stream recycling

The Sandwich Transfer Station before the change to single-stream recycling May 15. Emily Burwen. (click for larger version)
May 12, 2010
SANDWICH — For the past 29 years the Town of Sandwich has been an active recycling participant but will switch to single-stream recycling next week to encourage even more recycling and potentially save money.

The recycling program is overseen by the Board of Selectmen. Selectmen's Assistant Jennifer Wright said the market for recyclables tanked, which is primarily why this change is being made.

"We were paying to have recyclables towed away but no revenue was being produced, but slowly revenue is beginning to come back," Wright said.

Single-stream recycling, also referred to as Zero-Sort, is a simpler way of recycling, where everything goes into one bin and is separated out afterward through the use of blowers, magnets, sorters and conveyor belts.

Previously, everything has been separated into certain containers by categories of paper, aluminum and plastics, and only certain number plastics were accepted. This method of recycling is called double-stream recycling and is the method of choice in many towns. The drawback, though, is that only certain items were recyclable; certain items such as steel cans could not be recycled.

Single-stream is said to be more beneficial for the town as more items can be recycled and this method costs taxpayers less money. It also allows people to recycle more types of products such as plastic numbers one through seven where previously only numbers one and two were accepted. Cans and aerosol cans are also now accepted.

Wright knows that there is a lot of planning that must be worked out to make this a success.

"There are many questions we must think about such as is our facility able to handle single-stream and do we need more people to work at the Transfer Station, and what about traffic flow?" said Wright. "We have to think of ways to make the switch easy and efficient, and think of the various equipment costs and the overall cost effectiveness of the entire package."

Many are in favor of single-stream as an easier, simpler way to recycle that is sure to encourage more people to participate in recycling.

"The most important thing is to get the word out, and make sure people are recycling and that they are recycling the correct things," said Wright. "Change is not comfortable for a lot of people, so we have to make it as smooth as possible, and one way to do that is to have plenty of information available, be communicating and reach as many people as possible."

The Northeast Resource Recycling Association, which many towns including Sandwich are members of, provides many resources on recycling. There are also resources available at the transfer station and bulletin boards at town hall of what can and cannot be recycled.

The town of Sandwich is currently finalizing the last step and going through the hauling process in regards to who will haul out the recyclables from the transfer station. Single-stream recycling begins Monday, May 15.

Varney Smith
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