Pawtucket Times: Valley cities get recycling rebate funds

By Joseph Fitzgeraldrirrc_rebate.jpg

Cities and towns  in the Blackstone Valley, including Woonsocket and Pawtucket, received more than $138,00 from the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) as part of the statewide revenue share program that doles out cash rebates to communities based on how much each municipality has increased its recycling rate.

At the ceremony held Tuesday at the state's recycling center in Johnston, RIRRC Exectutive director Mike O'Connell handed out the fiscal year 2015 rebates, including $15,611 for Woonsocket, and $43,981 for Pawtucket.

RIRRC manages the state's recycling program and hands out portions of the profit to each local government every year. Municipalities received $1.5 million last year.

In fiscal year 2015, the corporation made $551,700 in profits from the sale of household recyclables, which was disbursed to 36 communities, including Woonsocket, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Burrillville, Glocester, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and East Providence.

The state of Rhode Island delivered 284 tons, earning $1,384

RIRRC manages almost all of the state's municipal and commercial solid waste. The facility processes more than 92,000 tons of recyclables and the Central Landfill disposes of 750,000 tons of solid waste annually.

Recycling rates are computed as the percentage of recycling waste processed at the Materials Recycling Facility compared with the amount of waste sent to the landfill for burial. 

"Recycling in R.I. has come a long way," said O'Connell. "Rhode Islanders are making recycling an everyday habit, and continue to send us a steady stream of materials. But we're seeing a decrease in the quality and condition of the recyclables. That's why its important for the cities and towns to keep up their programs and recycling education efforts."

Municipalities recycling profit shares are based on the tons of recyclables trucked to the RIRRC's MRF by each municipality during the fiscal year, as well as a share of the profits from the sale of commercial and out-of-state recycling. Overall, the state recycled 98,400 tons of bottles, cans, newspapers, cardboard, and plastic containers last year.

"Even in a tough year, with the prices paid for recyclables on the global marketplace down, RI is in a better place than many," said O'Connell. "Making sure that recyclable containers are empty is important, because that keeps the paper products clean and dry. Keeping harmful items out of the recycling is important too, for the sake of every man and woman who works at the MRF." Recycling everything allowed in the program helps the municipal bottom line as well. "It reduces how much cities and towns need to pay for landfill disposal, " said O'Connell, "thus, reducing eh burden on municipal budgets and the taxpayer."

RIRRC has seen an increase over the past year in the number of municipal recycling loads containing a high amount of plastic bags, food waste, yard waste, and items that pose danger to workers like used diapers, hypodermic needles, and propane gas tanks.

Tonnage rates and the cash rebates this year for some other areas towns include:

Cumberland $20,412, 3,905.

Woonsocket $15,611, 2,905

Lincoln $10,876, 2,024

Central Falls $8,879, 1,652

Pawtucket $43,981, 8,185

East Providence $25,372, 4,722

Glocester $6,819.80, 1,269

Burrillville, $10,100, 1,880

North Smithfield $7,046, 1,311

According to O'Connell, the annual profit sharing event displays how the simple act of recycling yields an economic benefit for Rhode Island. RIRRC doesn't charge a processing fee to accept recyclables, whereas landfilling trash comes at a cost. For each ton of recyclables diverted from the landfill, municipalities save $32 in disposal fees. The Recycle Together RI program allows all the recyclable materials to be collected in the same bin - making it easy and convenient for Rhode Islanders to recycle. Now, past its one-year anniversary, the program has resulted in an 11% increase in inbound tons of recyclables. Since the launch of the new recycling program shipments of sorted recyclables sold to market have increased 15 percent. While shipments have increased, the value paid for these recyclables depends on open market demand. This results in a fluctuation in total recycling profits from year to year. Regardless of the current state of the market, RIRRC expects that the Recycle Together RI program will continue to yield a greater benefit to the state.

This year's recycling profits are earmarked for reinvestment in each municipality's recycling program, allowing cities and towns to make needed improvements directly in their community. RIRRC staff expects to see various investments made in different programs, including updated educational programs and materials and the conversion to automated cart recycling. Together RI, several area municipalities have converted to automated cart recycling, including Burrillville, Cumberland, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Central Falls and East Providence.


Original article posted in the 10/2/2015 edition of the Pawtucket Times. 

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