County eyes recycling changes

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County Department of Solid Waste officials said this week the department continues to weigh possible major changes in the local recycling process first discussed last summer.

The department in July discussed new ideas to possibly alter local recycling by county residents. Six months later, change hasn’t come yet, but it is being seriously evaluated.

“It’s probably going to happen sooner than later,” county Recycling Coordinator Dianne Woske said Monday.

Department Director Jeff Bouchard said Monday that recycling changes – including possible public commingling of recyclables – will be discussed soon with the county Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development and Environment Committee.

“I will be looking at it in the upcoming months with the committee,” Bouchard said.

He said the problem in making major changes to recycling is you must study all possible scenarios, as well as pricing to fully implement a program.

“To change the entire process is very expensive,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard told supervisors last summer that after more than 20 years of traditional recycling, the county might want to make a change. Changes being considered include possibly having the public mix, or “commingle,” all their recyclables together into one bin in what is known as a “single-stream process.”

Officials say most of New York state’s landfills already are accepting recyclables in one container because of newer, more modern separation equipment and trucks.

Woske said last year that with the changes, there would be no plastic bags for curbside collection, replaced by residential “bins.” She said it would be easier for residents to recycle, predicting more compliance. But she said the existing recycling facility on Mud Road might have to undergo a “multi-million dollar” renovation to deal with single-stream changes.

Single-stream collection would be an alternative to the three different products currently displayed on streetside collection – plastics, cans and bottles, and paper and cardboard. Other possible changes might include adding other products to the list of recyclables, such as gable top cartons, which are accepted in single-stream programs. Such cartons are often used for liquid products such as milk and juice.

There also could be fewer trucks performing curbside runs, and using staff to assist in other programs that have increased, such as electronics collection. Bouchard said his department also has been experimenting with a government surplus-obtained packager garbage truck as a collection vehicle.