The operator of Brookhaven Town’s recycling plant is expanding the facility in a bid to increase the amount of material it can process by nearly 40 percent.
Construction began last week to add 4,662 square feet of space to the 75,000-square-foot facility on Horseblock Road in Brookhaven hamlet. The work is scheduled to be completed by next month.
The expansion is expected to increase the amount of material processed at the plant by 39 percent, to 100,000 tons a year, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said. The plant currently takes in about 72,000 tons annually, he said.
The $200,000 construction tab will be paid by Green Stream Recycling, which operates the materials recovery facility, or MRF, under contract to Brookhaven, Romaine said.
Brookhaven officials say their ability to boost recycling rates in the town — and persuade other municipalities to use the plant — has been limited by space shortages at the facility. Town officials hope other municipalities and private companies will use the plant once the expansion is completed, Romaine said.
“We’re ready to go to the next level,” he said in an interview. “We’re preparing for the future. We really want to give a big boost to recycling.”
In addition to its own residents, Brookhaven collects recyclables from municipalities such as the towns of Smithtown, Huntington and Southold.
The facility’s additional space will help workers process more recyclables and avoid problems such as litter that occur when too much material comes to the plant, general manager George Bateman said.
“I have the ability to process more, but I need more space to store when we get hit hard,” Bateman said. “I’ll definitely have the space on the floor, which was our biggest obstacle.”
Brookhaven’s switch in 2014 to single-stream recycling — in which residents collect paper, plastics, metals and cardboard in one bin, rather than separate containers — produced a 25 percent jump in the town’s recycling participation rate that year. Participation rates have leveled off since then, Romaine said.
The supervisor added that the town is preparing a mailing to encourage residents to put paper and other material into recycling bins. The mailing will go to parts of the town where recycling rates are low, Romaine said.
Town officials are talking to other towns, villages and school districts about joining Brookhaven’s single-stream program and using the recycling facility. Romaine would not identify those municipalities and districts.
“We expect our recycling numbers to come up in the future,” Romaine said. “We’re taking a look at whatever else we can do to increase recycling.”