The Town of Brookhaven and its former recycling center operator are nearing a settlement of the town's lawsuit against the company stemming from its decision last year to back out of a 25-year contract amid a collapse of the worldwide recycling market.
Green Stream Recycling and town officials have agreed to terms in which the company would pay Brookhaven a total of $1.42 million over four years to settle the suit filed by the town late last year. As part of the settlement, Green Stream would also agree to refurbish its equipment at the town-owned Materials Recovery Facility in Brookhaven hamlet, town officials said.
The Brookhaven Town Board voted 7-0 Thursday to approve those terms, contained in a memorandum of understanding drafted by town and Green Stream officials.
Brookhaven chief of operations Matt Miner said Monday he expected a final settlement to be reached in about two months. The settlement would require approval of the town board.
“We’re off to a good start," Miner said in an interview. "The town and the town board are pleased with the steps that have been taken so far, but we still have a little way to go.”
Green Stream, also known as Hudson Baylor Brookhaven, told Brookhaven officials in late October it would cease its operation of the plant because of plummeting commodities prices. Town and waste industry officials said prices for recyclables nose-dived last year, in large measure because China — the largest international purchaser of American recyclables — had curtailed purchases of plastics and cardboard.
Brookhaven officials on Oct. 25 sued the company for breaching its contract with the town. At the time, Green Stream officials said the company would fold. Green Stream was operating the Brookhaven facility under a 25-year deal struck with the town in 2013.
In an email, Hudson Baylor Brookhaven president George Bateman said: "We always hoped the matters and controversy with the Town of Brookhaven would be resolved amicably and we continue to work to achieve that result."
The town in late November switched from a single-stream recycling system, in which paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic and glass could be deposited by residents in a single container each week, to a dual-stream system, in which paper products and other recyclables are collected separately on alternate weeks.
The town discontinued curbside pickup of glass. Residents may deposit glass at seven collection centers located around town.
Brookhaven also said it would no longer recycle items such as greasy pizza boxes and cardboard milk containers. Town officials said those items aren't clean enough to be sold on recycling markets.
Town officials said the potential settlement includes a provision requiring Green Stream, or any company that acquires its assets, to convert the town recycling center's single-stream equipment to dual-stream systems. The settlement also allows the town to purchase that equipment in the future under certain circumstances, such as if Brookhaven decides to buy out the Green Stream contract, officials said.
Brookhaven last year entered into a contract with the Town of Smithtown in which Smithtown would process many of Brookhaven's recycling collections. That contract was expected to last six months to one year, after which Brookhaven planned to explore possibly reopening its own recycling facility. The facility is dormant until town officials decide whether to reopen it.