Tonawanda News

May 8, 2014

City switches to recycle totes

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda will transition to using large recycling totes as part of an effort to save money after watching both North Tonawanda and Buffalo benefit from similar programs. 

On Tuesday night, the council approved a bid award to Rehrig Pacific, which will provide 65-gallon totes for each residence — replacing the smaller blue bins. The one-time cost for each tote, $45.58, will appear on residents’ tax bills. 

The totes will be delivered next month and the program will likely begin in mid-June, Mayor Rick Davis said. Letters to residents will be sent out regarding the change.

The program has saved money in NT and Buffalo, and city officials are hoping that the change will be beneficial to Tonawanda as well. As part of the change, recycling will be picked up every two weeks — a reduction from the current once-a-week schedule. The cutback in pickups alone will reduce costs.

“Every community that had done a program like this takes a line item in their budget from red to black. That’s what we are hoping to do,” Davis said.

The city will save additional money if residents recycle more items in the larger totes. Per the city’s contract, Tonawanda receives $8 per ton of recycled items, but has to pay to dispose each ton of garbage.

Residents won’t have to sort the items before putting them in the tote, making the process easier, Department of Public Works Superintendent Joseph Warthling said.

“They can throw their papers, cans and everything into the tote,” Warthling said.  “If residents aren’t throwing it into their solid waste, and are putting it in recycling instead, then we are winning on both sides. That’s the benefit, and it’s green, so it’s better for our future.” 

Officials first began discussing the change in 2012, after NT had success with a pilot program. 

“The big push to do it now was because one of our recycling trucks reached its life expectancy, and the other one is barely being held together,” Davis said. “It was an opportunity to consolidate.” 

The city will have three workers instead of four on the recycling truck as part of the change. The fourth employee will be transferred and will likely help complete highway work, including road and sewer construction. 

Last month, NT Mayor Rob Ortt released statistics that indicated an increase in the amount of items residents recycle, thanks in large part to the use of their 35-gallon totes. 

The city increased their recycling between 2012 and 2013 by 1.8 percent, the mayor’s release said.

“Thanks to some recent changes which have made it easier for our residents to recycle, we have seen an increase in our recycling totals. This translates to an annual cost savings of $78,903 for city taxpayers, as well as the knowledge that we are helping to do our part as a community to ensure a sustainable planet,” Ortt said. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.