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Southold likely to vote on 3-town recycling agreement, official says

Collapsing prices in international recycling markets have led municipalities to reconsider contracts for recycling operations.

Town of Brookhaven Materials Recycling Facility in Brookhaven

Town of Brookhaven Materials Recycling Facility in Brookhaven on Oct. 29. Photo Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Southold Town is likely to enter into a three-town recycling agreement with Brookhaven and Smithtown as early as next week, officials said.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he expected a resolution authorizing him on behalf of the town to enter into the agreement to be on the agenda for the Town Board’s Dec. 18 regular meeting.

Under the six-month joint agreement, the three towns would jointly collect and process paper, cardboard and other recyclable material. Russell said the town’s attorneys were finalizing their review of the agreement.  

Collapsing prices in international recycling markets caused Green Stream Recycling to pull out of a 25-year deal to run Brookhaven's single-stream recycling plant, where Southold and other municipalities had sent their collected recycling materials.

“It’s a short-term measure, and it works for us. We’re grateful that we have that option,” Russell said last week.

Both Smithtown and Brookhaven’s town boards voted to ratify the deal Nov. 20.

Southold is currently sending its single stream recyclables from the Cutchogue Transfer Station to the OMNI Materials Recovery Facility in Babylon on a temporary basis. The town board approved the move 5-0 as an emergency resolution at its Nov. 20 meeting in order to clear space at the Cutchogue station, as the facility had reached its capacity for those recyclables.  

Southold’s Cutchogue-based recycling center is moving to three-stream recycling. Bins at the facility are being rearranged to accept sorted materials in three categories:

•    mixed clean paper, including cardboard newspaper, magazines, mail and office paper

•    mixed clean tin or aluminum cans, and No.1 and No.2 plastic trays and bottles

•    clean glass bottles

Town solid waste coordinator James Bunchuck, said the facility will be asking residents to start separating their recyclables in that way Dec. 17. The facility will still accept mixed recyclables until Feb. 1, when three-stream sorting becomes mandatory.

Because three-stream recycling had been commonplace in Southold before the town switched to single-stream recycling in 2014, Russell said the two-month voluntary period would allow time for residents to get used to switching back to previous recycling methods.

“We’re giving the public time to become accustomed to habits that they were used to,” Russell said.

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