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Save the recycling center

Ridgefield needs to find a way to keep the recycling center going.

It’s been losing money. Controller Kevin Redmond said the center costs $10,000 or $11,000 a month to operate. But recyclables are commodities with value, and the center has income — just not enough. Prices for recycled commodities have been down. While Mr. Redmond’s figures show income $4,200 below costs in July, they also show the operation within about $500 of breaking even for September. The center was profitable as recently as 2010-11, when it made the town $11,500 after costs.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says there’s been a dramatic fall-off in “single-stream” recyclables delivered to the center. The hauling firm that served much of the town sold its routes to a company with its own recycling operation. Trucks began taking recyclables collected in Ridgefield out of town.

The firm has agreed to go back to the old system, and drop off recyclables collected in Ridgefield at the town center. But Mr. Marconi wasn’t sure that would benefit the operation much, since the single-stream recyclables don’t get the same prices as the clean, sorted stuff the center traditionally delivered.

Costs could be reduced by opening only a couple of days a week. Fees for individual drop-off at the trash transfer station next door could be increased — they’ve been $5 for years — and the extra income used to support the recycling center. After all, people who drop off their own trash at the transfer station are also ones recycling at the center.

Maybe the public has some ideas. Would creating a redemption operation for nickel bottles at the center bring in some money? What if the town dropped single-stream, and returned to handling only sorted glass, paper, plastic, and metal cans?

Just jacking up the fees at the transfer station seems a nice, simple solution.

During the discussion one selectman wondered whether the town could afford to operate the center at a loss. Closing down the recycling center is the one idea that shouldn’t be on the table.

Ridgefield’s Recycling Center is one of the oldest public recycling operations in the state. There has to be a way to save it.

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