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Letter: Norwalk Benefits From Single-Stream Recycling

NORWALK, Conn. ? The Norwalk Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. We reserve the right to edit submissions, but we respectfully ask that you keep your correspondence under 500 words. Please send letters to norwalk@dailyvoice.com .

To the Editor;

Last year, the Norwalk Common Council approved a 10-year contract with City Carting. The contract had two parts. The first outsourced our solid waste pickup (that is both garbage collection and disposal) in the 4th Taxing District – a move that should save taxpayers close to $10 million over the life of the contract. This outsourcing was implemented without any city workers losing their jobs. The second part of the contract allowed for the establishment of “Single Stream Recycling” a few months from now.

Single Stream is an economically and environmentally sound program that takes us a step closer to becoming a more sustainable 21st-century city. However, we need to work together as residents to make sure that the amount recycled is maximized, so that the savings are maximized as well.

As reported here and elsewhere, on July 1, Norwalk’s recycling will shift from a program that has required separating the cans and bottles from the paper and using blue and green bins.  Each home will receive a new 64-gallon toter. That is about the size of a regular house-wheeled garbage container and should be manageable for most. All you need to do is collect all of your household recyclables in that toter and place it at the curb each week on your appointed day. (The pickup days will not change under the new system.) Nearby cities have reported an amazing increase in the amount of material recycled. Each ton we avoid sending to the city transfer station saves us $85; each ton we recycle earns us $17.50.

So, each ton of trash that becomes a ton of recycled material is a benefit to Norwalk taxpayers of more than $100. We are projecting a conversion of 4,000 tons more each year once the program is completely phased in. While this is not likely to change the annual debate on the operating budget, it is a moral imperative for all of us who can to contribute to this worthwhile effort and not allow recyclables to head to the landfill. The average homeowner should have an easier time with their recyclables each week and with no sorting, no headaches, either. Please, no food or used paper towels. No hardened metal or electronics.

What about others who aren’t the average homeowner?  For condo dwellers, the experience is likely to vary depending on the complex. You may still want to hold on to the smaller containers you currently have in order to transport your recyclables to the condo’s central collection point. Look for further direction to come from your management company. Challenge the neighbors in nearby units to see who can recycle the most, who knows what can happen if we make this fun.

If you are alone or older, or simply unable to manage a large toter, you may request a smaller replacement toter that will be more manageable for you once your new toter has been delivered. The City’s Customer Service Department should be contacted to arrange for the swap at 203-854-3200.

While this new service may take some getting used to, it will be worth it. You need not throw the blue and green bins out to incorporate the new toter. Make this a part of the family’s routine. As the kids recycle at school, so will they recycle at home and the process will become ingrained. Please start thinking now of how you can change your routine to get more in the recycling toter and less in the garbage can.

Together, we can make the new system work.

Dave McCarthy Bruce Kimmel Norwalk Common Council

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