Enfield to Implement Curbside Recycling Program this Summer
At the Enfield transfer station yesterday, Shaleen Theiler gets rid of her cardboard boxes. Theiler recently moved to town with her family. “I would love to have curbside recycling,” she said. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Andy MacDonald, manager of the Enfield transfer station, tosses a metal camping fuel tank to co-worker Damian Hetzel at the facility yesterday. The tank was in a recycling bin but is not allowed for safety reasons. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
At the Enfield Transfer Station, resident Mark Mills sorts cans into bins. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Enfield — Come August, a formal recycling program will be launched in Enfield.
In an effort to save money and promote green efforts, town officials are introducing a “zero-sort” curbside recycling program that would pick up recyclables and trash every two weeks.
“We’re trying something new,” said Town Manager Steve Schneider. “With zero-sort, residents will no longer have to sift through glasses and metals and newspapers when they recycle.”
Enfield has weekly trash pickup, but residents currently have to drive to the town transfer station on Lockhaven Road if they want to recycle.
While residents yesterday didn’t denounce the recycling program, several expressed doubts about their garbage piling up an extra week and stinking up the community.
“It’s only going to get worse,” Enfield resident Peter Alekseiunas said of the new program. The town is growing, he said, and the amount of garbage generated only rises.
Alekseiunas yesterday unloaded his trash at the town’s Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Facility and explained that he and his wife only accumulate about a bag and a half’s worth of garbage per trip.
“But that’s just two of us,” Alekseiunas said. “Others are bound to produce more.” He scanned the transfer station: A few small cars formed a line near the Dumpsters, their trunks popped open. The sound of glass bottles being tossed into bins echoed through the air.
“This place is going to be packed with the new plan,” he predicted, “and it’s going to cost more money if they have to increase their operating hours.”
The Selectboard earlier this year approved the new system because it offered potential cost-savings and the chance to increase recycling rates, Schneider said.
The town spends about half a million dollars on pickup and disposal of trash, amounting to about 10 percent of the municipal budget, he said.
Schneider said reducing trash will cut the amount spent on tipping fees, the costs associated with transporting and properly disposing trash. “That starts with increasing the amount of recycling.”
The new program could help reduce fees by at least 10 percent, possibly even “20 to 25 percent,” Schneider said, and the transfer station will still be available for anyone who feels that their trash is accumulating too quickly.
To accomplish the program, the town partnered with Casella Waste Systems, the trash-hauler that offers “zero-sort” recycling, Schneider said.
And in the fall, residents will get two cans: a 96-gallon plastic can on wheels, known as a “totter,” for recyclables and a 64-gallon totter for trash.
Efforts to change how Enfield residents dispose of their trash and recyclables has had spotty results in the past.
The town tried to start a recycling program more than a decade ago, Schneider said, but it never panned out.
And in 2009, voters at Town Meeting rejected a proposal to go to a Pay-as-you-throw trash system (after giving households roughly two free bags a week) on an 84-64 vote.
Schneider said he thinks that the programs didn’t pass because they were “too big of a change.”
Back at the transfer station, David Michael, who has lived in Enfield since 1972, said the new program wouldn’t affect his recycling habits.
“I’m just down the road,” he said. “I’ll still come here.” But larger families, he said, and campers near Lake Mascoma might have issues with overflowing trash, and, consequently, the wilderness.
“Animals would be attracted to spillage,” he said. “Crows, racoons poking holes in garbage bags, bears.”
Another resident, Jerold Theis, said he’s concerned about flies.
In a letter to the Valley News that was published in May, Theis wrote that “collecting wet garbage every two weeks instead of every week throughout the year will create more breeding sites for the housefly.”
“One-and-a-half to two generations can be completed during that time,” Theis, who has a degree in veterinary medicine and a PhD in comparative pathology, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
But some Upper Valley towns have moved to the new system with some success, including Plainfield.
“There’s a few times over the summer where you can get some odor,” said Jim Taylor, Enfield’s Department of Public Works director. “But, by and large, you don’t see a lot of issue.”
George Loupis, a Lebanon resident who operates an apartment complex in Enfield, said that he doesn’t believe his tenants will actively recycle, even with the new program.
“I would say it’s a good idea. I think it’s a good idea for the environment. I think it’s good for the town. I think it’s a good thing,” Loupis, 83, said. “But knowing the past habits of people, I doubt very much that they’ll recycle.”
Most people in Enfield “all work out of town,” he said.
After a 10-hour day, and commuting, “are you going to come home and pay attention to cans and bottles?” Loupis asked. “No. You have to be conscious of these things.”
Kimberley Quirk, chairwoman of the town Energy Committee and owner of the Enfield Energy Emporium, said she’s excited about the new program.
“Any way we can help to reduce people’s waste is a great idea,” she said. “I just hope enough people get behind this to make it a regular part of life.”
Zack Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3211.