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Hooksett to 'temporarily' send recycled collections to incinerator

Union Leader Correspondent

July 06. 2018 10:19PM
As of July 6, 2018, only aluminum and cardboard will be accepted at the Hooksett Town Transfer Station. (Town of Hooksett)

HOOKSETT — Citing changing market forces, town officials in Hooksett have informed residents that all recycled materials collected in curbside containers will “temporarily” be sent to incinerators.

In a notice posted on the town website on Friday, officials said a 470 percent increase in the cost of processing recyclables in just the last year was the driving factor behind the decision to put a pause on recycling of curbside collections.

“The recycling markets have tumbled and costs have risen from $20 per ton to $114 per ton since last July (trash is presently $71.77 per ton),” officials wrote.

The statement went on to say that residents contaminating recycling bins with garbage was an additional factor that was driving up costs.

In spite of the fact that all waste will be sent to the incinerator, Town Administrator Dean Shankle emphasized the town’s desire for residents to continue the practice of putting recyclables in the appropriate container.

“We are asking people to continue to use the two barrels to separate the trash from the recycling,” wrote Shankle in his Town Administrator’s memo. “Even though at this point the contents will be ending up at the same place, we are hoping that is a short-term situation and it will be easier to reinstitute actual recycling if things remain constant.”

Shankle added that recycled aluminum and cardboard continue to turn a profit for the town, noting that the materials will still be recycled if residents opt to bring them to the transfer station.

This policy comes after the town’s decision last March to stop accepting recycled glass bottles.

As previously reported by the Union Leader, the end of glass acceptance was also the result of financial constraints, with Department of Public Works Director Diane Boyce saying the weight and contamination of glass products combined to make recycling the material a financial net-zero.

Shankle said the instability of the market for recycled materials made him reluctant to guess what the price of processing curbside recyclables would need to drop down to in order for collection to resume.

“It’s going to come down to supply and demand,” Shankle said. “As the people that are taking the trash see that they’re processing more, they could actually start increasing the costs for trash. Then what? There’s too many moving pieces to make a hard and fast guess one way or the other.”

Beyond local concerns, Shankle said that there were international forces involved that the town had no control over.

“Part of the reason we can’t get rid of recyclables is because of what’s going on with China,” he said, citing a series of restrictions and outright bans that the Beijing government has placed on imported recycled materials over the last few years.

“If you put diapers in recyclables and the recyclables get sent to China, why would they want that? Single stream, while trying to make it easier on people to recycle, is making it harder in the market. Maybe that’s something we’ll have to revisit,” Shankle said.

Environment General News Hooksett Local and County Government

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