UCRRA Board Unanimously Pass Resolution to Triple Kingston’s Single-Stream Recycling Costs through December.

Click on image to view video.

By Rebecca Martin

On Wednesday, the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) unanimously passed through Resolution No. 2445 that will end single-stream recycling for the agency on December 31st, 2018 and resolution No. 2446 to increase tipping fees for the remainder of the year beginning July 1, 2018.

What does that mean for Kingston?

Single stream recycling is Kingston’s current system, and we made a large investment in order to do so between 2011 and 2013 with UCRRA’s blessing.  Although Kingston is the only municipality who does so through UCRRA, other communities in Ulster County engage in single stream recycling through private haulers without any trouble.

The City of Kingston, that serves approximately 24,000 people, must now scramble to figure out how to manage its single-stream recycling  before the end of the year and in the meantime, the costs to use UCRRA as we have will TRIPLE from $20 per ton to $76 per ton in July ($61 + $15 user fee). The price may fluctuate from month to month, and be even higher until single-stream is discontinued at UCRRA and we go off on our own.

The bitter pill in all of this for the public is that during the UCRRA Board’s informational meeting earlier in the spring, the agency was aware of the potential changes in the market last October. Prior to the City of Kingston adopting its municipal budget and with more time to engage in discussions with the public and private enterprises.

VIEW  Video
Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to the Kingston News

KingstonCitizens.org will host a public educational forum on the UCRRA board in September of 2018.

 

 

VIDEO: City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble UCRRA Public Hearing on Single Stream Recycling

Photo Credit: Phyllis McCabe for Hudson Valley One.  Click on image to view Mayor Steve Noble’s Testimony at the UCRRA Public Hearing on Single Stream Recycling and rate increases on June 14th. 

 

Mayor Steve Noble gave excellent testimony at Thursday evening’s Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s (UCRRA) public hearing on Single Stream Recycling and rate increases.  You may click on the image to view his testimony, or following along here:  VIEW 

The public can submit comments for the next 10 days (through June 24th) to UCRRA@ucrra.org

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“I could come before you this evening to talk about how the city of Kingston began its single stream operation. I could talk to you about how the Research Recovery Agency blessed the city of Kingston’s transition to single stream recycling. I could talk to you this evening about how much money the city has spent with both local funds and state grant dollars purchasing recycling bins for the city of Kingston residents. 

I could also talk to you at length about the amount of money spent on mechanizing our equipment to have the single stream recycling trucks that we purchased with state dollars. I could also speak to you this evening about how our recycling rates have almost doubled in the city of Kingston since we implemented this new recycling program. But in five minutes, I can’t do that.  I also don’t believe I can do that in the month in a half that we’ve had since UCRRA announced its plans to discontinue single stream recycling. 

This is viewed as something that, as you all have indicated, has been happening because of China. But I would say that the issue of recycling has been happening around our country and around New York for decades, trying to get people to recycle. And it has not been easy. And it’s been something that we’ve all struggled with. 

Whether we’re single stream or dual stream, people still don’t know how to recycle correctly. People still put plastic bags in dual stream recycling just like they do in single stream recycling. They still don’t know where to put shredded paper. And whether it can be recycled or it can’t be recycled. And I think the same issue is here. This is an important decision. What do we charge? How do we manage it? Is it dual stream? Is it single stream? 

The agency is shifting course and deciding, again, that dual stream is the only way that Ulster County should operate. Then that should be a public discussion, and it should involve the county legislature. It should involve the recycling oversight committee. It should involve a whole lot more meetings like this, and it should involve the stake holders that will be directly implemented and impacted by these decisions. That should include the large haulers like Waste Management and County Waste. And it should involve the residents of the city of Kingston that don’t speak English. 

It should involve all of our residents. And the agency needs to step up and engage with our communities and really decide how can we build a better, more sustainable and also more resilient recycling industry here in Ulster County. And there is no way that that can happen before December 31st of 2018 before the proposed switch that you’re asking us to do. 

We need to be able to spend that time working together to decide once and for all how we do this. As many of you know, it’s taken the city of Kingston four years to completely implement single stream recycling in just the residential neighborhoods. On Tuesdays, we still have dual stream recycling, for the most part, on our business commercial districts in the city. And so we still haven’t gone fully single stream. 

I do think that it’s important that this decision not being made in haste. I think that the board has created a crisis, and made this seem like a crisis, making it seem that our agency is stockpiling single stream recycling. Making it seem that we have no place to put it. Making it seem that there is an emergency happening here in Ulster County, and it’s just not true. 

And yes, we all recognize that the market is changing, and that we have a huge issue that we all have to tackle together. But again, I don’t believe it needs to be done in six months. I don’t believe it needs to be done like this.  I encourage all of you to consider that when you’re deciding on how the board is voting on these next two resolutions. And so with that said, I just want to say thank you again for letting me speak this evening.”

Request that UCRRA Postpone Their Decision to Discontinue Single Stream Recycling.

“Right now … once it gets to [single-stream] stage, it’s worthless. So that’s just the unfortunate reality — that we’ve taken that vision … and screwed it up.”
– David Gordon, UCRRA Board Member

By Rebecca Martin

Last week, both elected officials and the public learned from an article in the local paper that the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) “announced plans to stop single-stream, or commingled, recyclables in 2019 and proposed doubling the fees for single-stream loads until the new policy was in place.”  Kingston Mayor Steve Noble took swift action with a letter in response that provided specific actions for the public to take.

There are two important upcoming meetings in May for the public. The first, the Ulster County Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee will meet on Thursday, May 3rd at 5:30pm (at UCRRA located at 999 Flatbush Road in Kingston, NY) and, more importantly in order for your voice to be heard, a public hearing is set for May 23rd  (VIEW our facebook event) with a potential vote to follow that would establish both new policy and a higher fee for our current commingled system imposed upon Kingston.

WHAT IS UCRRA? 

In 1986, the Ulster County Legislature obtained authorization from the State Legislature for the creation of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (the “Agency”), a public benefit corporation which was formed for the purpose of developing, financing, and implementing a comprehensive Countywide solid waste management program. In the mid-1980’s, after new initiatives to close non-complying exiting landfills were undertaken by the NYSDEC and strict requirements for the siting, construction, and operation of new disposal facilities were enacted, many communities found it beyond their financial and managerial capability to continue to dispose of waste in traditional ways. Consequently, many of the local municipalities in Ulster County requested that the Ulster County government assume the responsibility for solid waste management, and the Agency was created by the New York State Legislature pursuant to Chapter 936 of the Public Authorities Law approved December of 1986. The Agency’s organizational structure consists of a five-member Board of Directors (appointed by the Ulster County Legislature); an Executive Director; Agency Counsel; and thirty administrative and operations personnel.

The Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) currently owns and operates two transfer stations. The first is located at 999 Flatbush Road in the Town of Kingston and the other on Clearwater Road in the Town of New Paltz. The property for the New Paltz Transfer Station is leased from the town.

DUAL STREAM AND SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING

Dual stream recycling keeps paper in one container and other recyclables—such as plastic and metal—in another. Proponents of duel-stream recycling say that contaminants are eliminated from paper products by separating them, costing less in processing and allowing more of the end product to be re-used.

With single stream (or co-mingled) recycling, rather than sorting paper from other recyclables—such as metal and glass—residents place everything into the recycling cart together. Proponents of single-stream recycling say that it makes recycling easier to do. And when recycling is easier, more people may participate—raising recycling rates and increasing the amount of material that’s diverted from the landfill.

Single stream is Kingston’s current system, and we made a large investment in order to do so between 2011 and 2013. Some of our readers may remember when Kingston made that transition. It required large purchases such as new collection trucks and garbage/recycling bins.

THE COSTS

Along with the transition of trucks and bins, based on numbers from 2010, Kingston pays $71 per ton to ship our garbage up-river some 250 miles. That number is most certainly higher now, and may even be closer to $100 per ton today.  It is clear that keeping materials that can be recycled out of the trash stream is a big savings to both the budget and the environment.

As for recycling costs, according to a recent Daily Freeman article, “Kingston pays $20 per ton for commingled loads…” and from what I understand, our city also pays its fair share in offsetting the cost of recycled paper products that are contaminated.

Single stream recycling is not a new concept in Ulster County. Although Kingston is the only municipality who does so through UCRRA, other communities in Ulster County engage in single stream recycling through private haulers without any trouble.

Recent articles shared state that China is not accepting our recycled materials, a major link in the chain. According to some, without a buyer, our bailed recycled materials will sit in storage before eventually going into the landfill. Is that the case for private haulers in Ulster County who accept single-stream, too? Why then does a city like Seattle for instance, managing far more recycling than UCRRA does, continue to run it’s large, successful single-stream recycling program with a buyer for their recycled products?

THE ULSTER COUNTY LEGISLATURE.

The Ulster County Legislature appoints the five-member body to constitute the UCRRA Board and has both a Recycling Oversight Committee (where UCRRA Board member and Kingston resident Charlie Landi is appointed as liaison) and an Energy and Environment Committee that “set policy and review contracts pertaining to but not limited to the activities of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency”.

Although the announcement came out of the blue in Kingston, members of the UCRRA board say that Kingston’s single-stream recycling has been a problem for many years.  Did the legislature, who oversees UCRRA, know this or were they caught off guard, too?

KINGSTON’S REPRESENTATIVE ON UCRRA’S BOARD. 

Kingston’s representative on UCRRA’s board is former Ward 3 Alderman Charlie Landi who once stated that bottling Kingston’s municipal water would make good economic sense for Kingston.

Also on the board is the former Town of Ulster supervisor Fred Wadnola. It has been told that Wadnola negotiated a water deal with the City of Kingston decades ago for the town during his term.  As I understand it, the deal with its high rate has been trying for the town, and is one that the current town administration has been trying to find a way out of or at the very least renegotiate since at least leading up to the proposed Niagra Bottling Proposal in 2014.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? 

Given the magnitude of what the UCRRA board is proposing here by eliminating single-stream and it’s poor handling of the communications here in my opinion.  Kingston should have the time that it needs to ‘sort through’ the problem.

SIGN

KingstonCitizens.org’s Petition, requesting the board postpone the vote and to create additional public hearings.

ATTEND

The upcoming Public Hearing on May 23rd (click on the link to be taken to our Facebook event for more information) to speak to the UCRRA Board’s proposed changes.

1)  POSTPONE VOTE. The Ulster County Resource and Recovery Agency postpone its vote on the proposal for a minimum of 60 days to allow the Agency time to review the consequences of ending the acceptance of single-stream recycling on December 31st, 2018. Furthermore, to not consider fee increases to go into effect until at least January 1, 2019 to allow participating municipalities time to budget appropriately or consider alternative options.

2)  ADDITIONAL PUBLIC HEARING. The Agency hold a second public hearing in Kingston to allow the public and all officials additional time to review the proposal and to understand how it would impact our community.

3) PROVIDE INFORMATION TO PUBLIC AND IMPACTED MUNICIPALITIES. The Agency research regional collection sites for single-stream recycling and provide a report to the public on its findings.