Last year, residents recycled 500 tons of bottles and cans, saving the town $26,500. In contrast, last year we had more than 3,000 tons of trash incinerated, costing more than $201,000. We also get paid for recycling paper and cardboard.
This time of year is a very busy one, in part because Mansfield’s schools are back in session, and school composting and recycling programs are resuming.
We also have an influx of college students who are setting up house for the first time in single-family homes. These newest members of our community often need a bit of help understanding how and why we recycle in Mansfield.
There is quite a bit of information on the Mansfield Web site , but the one-on-one conversation about trash service and recycling is a really important part of becoming acquainted with Mansfield’s unique trash service.
Do you want to super-size that?
Here is some basic information. Trash collection service is provided exclusively through the Town of Mansfield. So, if you’re renting a single-family home and your landlord isn’t providing service, in order to start trash collection service we need a $75 deposit. This deposit is refunded when service is canceled, as long as the trash bills have been paid.
The next step is deciding on the level of trash service.
We have five different service levels. They range from a very small quantity of trash to the super-sized level.
The smallest service level – weekly pick-up of a 13-gal kitchen bag of trash – costs $11.75 per month. The largest service level – weekly pick-up of four 35-gal cans of trash – costs $34 per month.
And remember, the cost of the service includes weekly pick-up of an unlimited amount of recyclables.
And our list of materials that can be recycled with trash collection is long.
Our intention is to reward those who are avid recyclers and composters. We want you to keep your costs down – and the way to do that is to recycle.
If you really want to cut your trash costs even further, then starting a compost pile in the backyard will make a big dent in the amount of trash that is set out each week.
From supper to soil
It’s estimated that about 40 percent of our garbage is food waste. Isn’t that amazing? That is a lot of food. By composting it, it turns into a beautiful rich soil that can be used on the property. I can help you get started with a backyard compost pile. But I digress.
Using the example of a household of two adults who recycle and compost, it is very possible to only produce a single13-gal kitchen bag a week (with a substantial amount of recyclables next to it). The household cost then would be $11.75 per month, or the equivalent of three Starbucks cappuccinos or two Subway sandwiches. This is good news for people who are on a tight budget.
If that same household doesn’t compost, they will probably need the next trash service level – a 30- gal. bag of trash per week – costing them $3.50 more per month (or $42 more per year).
Now, if they’re poor recyclers, they may need to increase to the next service level, which will cost them $10 more per month (or $120 more per year).
Residents have a choice of how much of their budget they want to put toward trash collection. Many people that I speak to don’t see spending a lot on trash collection as a good use of their money. For that reason, we encourage every new resident to keep costs down by recycling everything they can.
Someone moving here from another state, or from a Connecticut town that doesn’t have an emphasis on recycling, might not realize all that they can recycle with trash collection service in Mansfield. Recycling includes much more than deposit cans and bottles. Our list includes things like paperboard (i.e. cereal boxes), junk mail, magazines, office paper, No. 1 and No. 2 plastic containers, milk and juice cartons and empty aerosol cans.
For renters coming into the Public Works office to sign-up for trash service, I take the time to show them examples of recyclable items. Yes, I have show-and-tell in my office. There’s also a list on the Web site.
Newspapers go here, pickle jars go there
Recyclables are broken into two categories: one is paper and cardboard, and the other is cans and bottles. And these two categories of recyclables should be kept separate, because they’re going on two different sort lines at the recycling plant and then shipped off to various manufacturers to be made into new products.
Paper items should be collected in paper bags or a cardboard box (not plastic bags). Sometimes people say they cannot find paper bags at a certain grocery store. I suggest they use a cardboard box, in that case. Or they can buy a package of paper bags from Mansfield Supply on Route 195.
Cans, bottles and certain plastic containers go directly into either a town-issued blue bin, or some other durable container that the resident has on hand. We charge $5.75 for our recycling bins, which can be purchased in the Public Works office at the Town Hall. We give residents the option of using something other than the blue recycle bin.
A word of caution — if someone’s recyclables are mixed together, (meaning paper mixed with cans and bottles) the recyclables collector doesn’t have to pick them up.
And if there are a lot of recyclables mixed in the trash (25 percent or more), the trash collector doesn’t have to pick up that trash.
If the rejected trash is then left by the road or accumulated on the property, the town can invoke the blight ordinance. But all of this can be avoided by following directions and asking questions. We are here to help you get used to a new routine.
Save some money, make some cash
For those who may think that all this sorting is a big nuisance, I would point out that it is expensive to get rid of our trash – $67 a ton (2,000 pounds).
It is significantly cheaper to recycle a ton of bottles and cans – $14 a ton. So, that’s a $53 difference.
Last year, residents recycled 500 tons of bottles and cans, and saved the town $26,500.
In contrast, last year we had more than 3,000 tons of trash incinerated, which cost more than $201,000.
We actually get paid for recycling paper and cardboard. How much varies with the market, but right now the market is pretty good for paper recycling.
We save some money and we earn some money, so it makes economic sense (as well as being environmentally responsible) to not throw your recyclables in the trash.
If you have questions about our recycling rules, please feel free to call me, Virginia Walton, at 429-3333. Or stop by the Public Works Department at Town Hall during business hours, which are 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; from 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday; and from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.
For more information: http://mansfield.htnp.com/columns/Recycling—V.Walton/