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Brookhaven, Smithtown, Southold get word out on recycling changes

Recyclables have been piling up at the Smithtown

Recyclables have been piling up at the Smithtown transfer facility on Old Northport Road in Kings Park. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Officials in Brookhaven, Smithtown and Southold are racing to fill airwaves, social media sites and newspapers with announcements promoting changes in their recycling programs that will start taking effect as soon as  this  week.

Those towns are switching to dual-stream recycling programs that will require residents to separate cardboard and mixed paper from plastics, aluminum and other metals. Glass no longer will be accepted in their curbside recycling programs.

And Brookhaven and Smithtown officials say the towns will no longer accept pizza boxes soiled by grease.

Brookhaven's dual stream program will kick off Wednesday . Southold and Smithtown will start in January.

Officials said they realize the difficulty of asking residents to switch back to dual-stream recycling only four years after adopting single-stream systems, in which recyclables were collected in a single bin.

“We need to give the public time to adjust to go back to old habits,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said. 

The major change for residents will be placing recyclables out at the curb on alternating weeks: paper and cardboard one week, plastics and metals the following week. Over the past four years, residents of those three towns have placed all recyclables out at the same time each week.

The towns are launching diverse publicity campaigns to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. The campaigns include radio and television ads, social media posts and newspaper announcements.

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said he had recorded messages for the town's cable-television channel announcing which recyclables would be collected each week. The town is sending a “blast email” to 70,000 residents outlining the new pickup schedule, and has budgeted about $10,000 for radio ads, he said.

Brookhaven officials plan to purchase bins for paper-only material and make them available to residents through the offices of the town's six town council members. The town also is setting up locations at town facilities in Farmingville, Manorville, Holtsville, Mount Sinai and the town landfill where residents can drop off glass.

Brookhaven will also no longer collect tinfoil or paper milk jugs.

Southold plans to create separate "bunkers" at the town solid waste facility in Cutchogue where residents can deposit paper and cardboard in one area and plastics and metals in another area, Russell said . Southold offers curbside recycling, though not in some parts of the town. In addition to radio and TV ads, announcements will be made on the town's government cable-TV channel, he said.

In Smithtown, officials are asking residents to stop putting glass in their curbside recycling bins starting Nov. 26. Residents can throw it out with their regular garbage or recycle it by bringing it themselves to three dropoffs: a town facility at 85 Old Northport Rd., town hall or the town’s highway department at 758 Smithtown Bypass.

Letters reminding residents about glass and dual-stream recycling will go out with property tax notices, and other town mailings will have a QR code residents can scan with their smartphones for details. Videos will air on public access television and YouTube.

One of the effort’s aims is to reduce or eliminate what Russell Barnett, the town’s top solid waste management official, called “wishful” recycling. Recyclables trade for cash on the international market, and well-meaning residents who put a glass bottle that breaks or even a greasy pizza box into a curbside bin can end up costing taxpayer money.

The towns' recycling contractors are Trinity Transportation Corp. and Winters Bros. Waste Services. Winters Brothers owner Joe Winters was co-owner of Green Stream Recycling, which ran Brookhaven's recycling facility until October, when company officials told the town it would no longer process materials because of worsening market conditions. 

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