Solid waste disposal costs have been relatively constant for the past five years, while recycling revenue has been fluctuating and is currently underperforming, though still reducing waste disposal costs to our town. Currently, Andover is paying about $65 a ton or about $64,000 a year in tipping fees (984 tons per year).
The Selectmen have committed to single stream recycling (SSR), a program that should increase the tonnage of recycled materials and reduce the overall tonnage of solid waste, the goal being to reduce the overall operational cost. Let’s review the Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling Budget from the 2012 budget:
Operating Expense: $17,000
Trucking Solid Waste: $42,500
Tipping Fees: $64,348
Based on 2012 income figures (January to September), recycled materials will generate revenue for the Town after expenses (dumpster rental and trucking). At this time, the Town is baling plastic, cardboard, and aluminum. The current equipment used to compact these materials is very labor intensive, and the balers themselves are due for replacement.
The singular advantage to our current system is that the Town maximizes the value of the recycled goods by keeping all materials separate. This advantage, however, is dependent on recycled materials having a high value. When values for recycled materials drop, labor and trucking costs for segregated recycling can exceed revenue generated.
Therefore, the Selectmen have decided to move forward with a single stream operation, combining plastic, cardboard, aluminum, paper, and glass in a compacting container. I believe that making recycling easier will increase recycling and reduce both solid waste and labor costs.
Additional savings will be realized when the Town is able to install a dual hopper system for non-recyclable solid waste. With only the single hopper that we have currently, we are often required to truck a less-than-full solid waste container to Penacook after a Wednesday dump day, for example, in order to be sure that we have enough hopper capacity for the next dump day on Saturday. With a two separate hoppers, each solid waste container can be filled to 100% of its capacity, thereby reducing trucking fees.