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Southwick recycling costs to increase by over $20 per ton

The cost of recycling is increasing across the region, including in Southwick. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

SOUTHWICK – The town’s recycling costs will increase from $70 per ton to $93 per ton in the first year of a five-year contract approved by the Southwick Select Board on Jan. 14.

The town contracts with the Massachusetts Recycling Facility (MRF) for its dual-stream recycling. Surrounding communities are also feeling the financial strains of recycling, especially those with single-stream recycling.

Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said, “It’s better for us because it’s dual-stream.”

“They’re going to $150 per ton,” said Department of Public Works Director Randy Brown of communities, including Westfield, that have single-stream recycling at the MRF.

Select Board Chairman Russ Fox said the town recycles a lot of items that have a deposit , such as soda bottles, and could be returned. However, the town does not have the staff or time to sort the items.

“We’re going to have to start encouraging people to get those returnables out of there,” he said, noting that the Lions Club has a bin for returnable donations at the Southwick Transfer Station.

Selectman Douglas Moglin said while that is a good idea, returnable items only comprise about two percent of the town’s recycling. 

“It has to be stopped from going to the consumer,” Stinehart said, adding that better packaging could help.

Brown wondered about the rising costs being shifted to residents by raising the transfer station sticker fee. Residents now pay $100 per fiscal year. Fox said transfer stations fees were never meant to cover trash and recycling costs.

“For the record, when Proposition 2 1Ž2 hit, a lot of communities started charging a nominal fee for their transfer station,” he said. “There was never intent that the fee would cover the costs of the transfer station.”

Moglin and Selectman Joseph Deedy said there is no incentive to recycle if it is cost prohibitive. They also mentioned continuing discussions about the cost of offering curbside pickup.

Brown said whatever future changes may be made, the town was facing its contract renewal deadline.

“Well, that’s probably the best deal we’re going to find,” Fox said of the new MRF fee.

“Yes, unfortunately, it is,” said Brown.

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