This story was reported by Sophia Chang, Carl MacGowan, Jean-Paul Salamanca and Nicholas Spangler. It was written by MacGowan.
The Brookhaven and Smithtown boards voted at separate meetings Tuesday to ratify a deal to jointly collect and process paper, cardboard and other recyclable material for at least six months.
Last week the towns and Southold agreed in principle that each would switch to dual-stream recycling programs, requiring residents to sort paper, plastics, aluminum and other metals separately.
Southold Town board members did not schedule a vote on the agreement Tuesday night because they wanted to review the proposal, officials said.
As part of the plan, the material will be stored at Smithtown's resource facility on Old Northport Road and processed by private hauling companies. Glass will no longer be collected by each town's curbside recycling programs.
Brookhaven plans to start its dual-stream program on Nov. 28. Smithtown and Southold said their new programs would start in January. The deal also includes the villages of Asharoken and Lloyd Harbor, both in Huntington Town.
"The recycling market has become very, very difficult," Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in an interview Tuesday. “Recycling is changing. There was a time when it was easy. It’s not easy anymore.”
The three towns previously had employed single-stream programs, in which residents collected all recyclables in one bin. They had to scuttle those programs in recent weeks after Green Stream Recycling backed out of a 25-year deal to run Brookhaven's single-stream recycling plant.
Green Stream officials said the Brookhaven plant no longer was financially viable because of collapsing prices in international recycling markets.
“For the time being, it’s a stopgap measure," Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said of the deal. “Single stream is very popular. It made recycling easier and increased our recycling rates, but the reality is, things have changed.”
The Smithtown Town Board voted 5-0 to approve the pact. The Brookhaven Town Board voted 7-0 in favor of the measure Tuesday night. Southold Town Councilman and Deputy Supervisor William Ruland said the agreement would likely be placed on the agenda for discussion when the board meets for its next scheduled work session Dec. 4.
“This came in the nick of time,” said Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s top solid waste official, following the vote. “If we did not do this deal today, those recyclables that are going to get picked up tomorrow would have been spilling out of the facility.”
The Lloyd Harbor Village Board voted unanimously Monday night to ratify the deal. Asharoken Village Clerk Nancy Rittenhouse said officials there will vote on the deal at a later date.
Smithtown has selected West Babylon-based Winters Bros. Waste Systems, which will pay $30 a ton for mixed paper and cardboard, and Trinity Transportation Corp., which will be paid $68 per ton for metal and plastic minus glass.
Brookhaven will pay Smithtown $5 per ton of mixed paper to cover handling costs. The contract can be extended for an additional six months if all parties agree. Southold would pay Smithtown the same fee-per-ton if they eventually approve the measure.
Brookhaven plans to establish glass collection centers at Town Hall and four other locations, including Manorville, Holtsville, Mount Sinai and the town landfill in Brookhaven hamlet. Glass will be ground into sand and used as landfill lining.
In Southold, residents choose between having recyclables picked up at curbside by private carters or bringing the material to the town's solid waste facility in Cutchogue. Russell said the facility will be modified to allow residents to deposit paper and cardboard separate from plastics and metals.