Tonawanda News

The City

September 6, 2012

City of Tonawanda considering recycling totes

The City of Tonawanda may be following in North Tonawanda's recycling footsteps and transitioning to larger totes for pickup. The common council discussed the possibility at the body's meeting Aug. 21 and cited the totes' success in other municipalities.

"We are looking at some other communities, and it worked for them," Mayor Ron Pilozzi said.

He said the use of totes could save the city money and the council may look at picking up recycling every other week as a possibility due to the larger capacity of the containers.

"It puts some alternatives in there rather than just using the $5 blue junkies," Pilozzi said.

North Tonawanda began a pilot tote program in May and has seen success so far. Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Rowles said the city is saving a great deal of money thanks to the containers.

According to Rowles, NT gets $10 per ton in revenue from their contracted recycling facility, compared to paying $33.50 for every ton that goes into a landfill. So for every ton that gets recycled and not trashed, the city saves $43.50.

"Every time we get the totes out there, we get revenue," Rowles said. "The more people recycle, the more we make."

About 300 35-gallon totes are being used in NT currently, and Rowles said 400 more are coming. The city already had the containers from an order in 2003 for garbage totes — but the size wasn't a popular choice for residents and they sat unused for years.

"I wanted to make use of them," Rowles said.

The pilot program is free of charge for residents and the city isn't responsible for any upfront costs thanks to the unused containers. Next year, though, Rowles is planning on putting money in the budget for more containers if residents want them.

"If we continue at the pace we are at, we might put another 1,000 out next year," Rowles said. "We are relying on word of mouth and supply and demand. As demand increases, we'll increase the supply."

Rowles said the biggest hurdle in the whole process was coming up with recycling trucks — a process that took months. In line with reusing materials and cost efficiency, the city is utilizing old trucks that have been converted into recycling vehicles for the project.

"They are really just old tractors," Rowles said. "But they look great, and they work great."

Despite the challenges, Rowles was inspired by the City of Buffalo's successful transition to totes and wants to keep the program going.

"We heard a lot of positives," Rowles said. "It did give us the heads up that the program is working, and I do keep up with other entities."

The City of Tonawanda is keeping a close eye on NT's success, but a program in Tonawanda would be a bit more costly as the city doesn't have any totes laying around for their convenience. As a result, the city may charge each resident $40 or $50 for a 65-gallon recycling tote.

"We would do that to avoid bonding and interest," Pilozzi said. "That was our thought process, but it's just a possibility."

The city is also putting together a garbage committee to discuss making that process more efficient.

"What we are going to do is examine numbers from the DPW," Pilozzi said. "And report back to the common council to look at a new and improved way of dealing with solid waste."

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.


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