A few months after Southold Town kicked off a new single stream recycling program at the town’s transfer station on Cox Lane in Cutchogue, town officials are asking residents to please keep their plastic bags out of recyclables.
Although the program, implemented approximately four months ago, is off to “a strong start, with recycling up 26 percent over the previous source-separated system,” according to a post on the Southold Town website, residents are asked to remember that plastic bags should not be included with recyclables. “These bags can jam and damage the machinery that sorts the recyclables,” the post reads. “If you can’t bring your clean plastic bags back to the store for recycling they should be placed with your regular trash.”
Jim Bunchuck, solid waste coordinator with Southold Town, came before the town board at its last work session in December to give an update on single use recycling.
“We’e run into some problems,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said, at the start of the discussion.
Bunchuck said there’s been good news: the amount of recycling townwide is up 221 tons, a 26 percent increase, “due to the ease of participation” in the new single stream recycling program — residents no longer have to sort their recyclables and can throw them all into the same bin at the transfer station.
But, he said, “People do have questions. They think it’s not recycling because it doesn’t look like it, since it all goes in one” area.
Residents also ask what type of machine is used by Long Island-based Green Stream Recycling to sort recyclables, he said. Bunchuk said residents in Brookhaven town have similar questions.
People need to learn, he said, that the system cannot accept plastic bags; the bags jam up the sorter. “While a few bags won’t hurt the system if a whole lot of plastic bags, we cant’tget to them all. It’s like Lucy and Ethel with the candy,” Bunchuck said.
Justice Louisa Evans suggested the town or recycling company send letters to customers to raise awareness.
“The town needs to step in to let the public know,” Russell said. “We’re glad they are recycling but the propensity to put it all in bags is jeopardizing the whole purpose of the program.”
Carters, he added, are “in a tough spot” because a new company could take refuse to a location other than Southold or Brookhaven Town. “The issue is people putting their recyclables in bags,” Russell added.
The board suggested public service announcements to raise awareness.