Local and state officials introduced the new single-stream recycling system that will be implemented in Newport this June during a forum presented by the Alliance for a Livable Newport on Tuesday night at the
The forum also explained how to reduce and recycle items that are difficult to dispose of, such as paint, mattresses, light bulbs and batteries.
Sarah Kite, Director of Recycling Services for the Rhode Island Resource and Recovery Corporation, Kristin Littlefield, Clean City Coordinator for the City of Newport, Ellie Leonardsmith of RI Clean Water Action, and Victor Bell, President of Environmental Packaging International, sat on the panel. Laura Carson, member of the Alliance for a Livable Newport, moderated the discussion.
What is single-stream recycling?
Single-stream recycling will allow households to combine all recyclable materials in one container rather than separating paper and plastics. According to a release from ecoRI, the name “single-stream recycling” will eventually be changed to reflect the fact that trash and recyclables should be kept separate.
“The goal of single-stream recycling is to dramatically increase the volume of recyclable items collected, thereby extending the life of the state landfill,” the release read. “ The new sorting machines can bundle a variety of plastics. . . Selling bales of these plastics to recycling processors is expected to bring in additional revenue to the RIRRC and participating cities and towns.”
Each municipality and waste haulers will have the decision to spend money on new vehicles and bins.
How does it affect Newport?
“The nature of waste has changed dramatically in our lifetime,” Carson said. “We need to reevaluate what we’re doing with this waste, how to deduce it and how to reuse it.”
“Reduction and reuse is just as important as recycling.”
Last October, the Newport City Council adopted a resolution to support extended producer responsibility (EPR). The policy allows producers to be responsible for the end-of-life management of their own products by bearing the cost of recycling and responsible disposal on the producer and those who use the product.
The resolution also adopted to develop recommendations by the Department of Public Services to establish an EPR program in Newport.
Leonardsmith also stressed the importance of community action regarding hands-on waste reduction at the local level.
“Newport is poised to be a leader on the state and national level,” she said.
Kite said Newport residents should look for official information in the mail in the first week of June.
How does EPR work?
In the EPR process, producers take responsibility for their packaging at the post-consumer stage, which shifts the responsibility for recycling and waste disposal from local governments to private industry producers, Bell said.
“EPR also impacts how companies design and choose materials for their products,” he said. ”If producers pay for post-consumer waste created by their products, it creates an incentive for them to make products that are less wasteful.”
By privatizing the cost of recycling and transferring the responsibility from the government, the consumer pays the cost of recycling that package, he explained.
“The money goes from you as a taxpayer to the industry paying for their own products. The harder you make a product to recycle, the more you pay. The easier it is, the less you pay.”
There are currently 69 EPR laws in 32 states around the country, mostly concerning waste electronic products, batteries and mercury switches in automobiles, he added.
Other ways to recycle
Newport currently has two days a year during the off-season where the community can dispose of hard to recycle items, like hard plastics and electronics. Most recently, the city held at the parking lot.
Littlefield said attendance has increased exponentially since the city’s , which may warrant additional dates.
For details on how to recycle everything from acoustical tiles to zip-lock bags, visit the RIRRC's Recylopedia.
Here’s a list of what ecoRI says what’s going to change with single-stream recycling. ecoRI is not affiliated with the project and the list is subject to change.
What will change:
Lids. Plastic coffee cups, coffee cans and deli container lids will be accepted.
No more scrap metal. Pots, pieces of metal, old nails and small appliances like toasters will not be accepted. Check with your local DPW to see if they have a dedicated collection for these metals.
“Oops” stickers. Waste haulers will put stickers on curbside items that can’t be recycled. A phone number on the sticker will ask residents to call their local department of public works for information.
Two gallons max. All plastic bottles, buckets and jugs can only have a capacity of 2 gallons or less.
Take-out containers and plastic platters and covers will be recyclable.
What will stay the same:
No plastic bags.
Rinsed. Jugs and bottles should be emptied and rinsed.
Glass. Under the old and new system, glass doesn’t get recycled. It is used for a daily landfill cover.
Soda and beer packaging. Cardboard boxes for beverages and six-pack holders can’t be recycled due to a chemical that prevents them from getting soggy.
No Styrofoam, straws, pens, toothbrushes, magnets, motor oil bottles and metallic paper.
Yes to aluminum and tin, foil, cans, paper milk bottles, juice boxes, and cartons for broths, soy and airy drinks.