With losses sometimes hitting $6,000 a month, the selectmen appropriated $11,000 to begin the conversion of the Ridgefield Recycling Center to a “single-stream” facility.
The money will pay for the pouring of a concrete pad that will sit below a compactor — and eventually, two compactors — that will squash recyclables of all kinds together.
Because the new approach will be single stream — no sorting, all recyclables dumped into the compactor together — town officials are hoping it will increase the volume of recycling done at the center.
The compactors will take cans, cardboard, glass of all colors, newspapers, magazines, mixed paper, shredded paper, plastics numbers 1-7, and plastic bags.
The compacted recyclables will be hauled to a plant — probably in Shelton — where they will be processed for recycling.
The new recycling approach is expected to start in early September.
Other aspects of the plan to revamp recycling center operations — in hopes it can again become self-supporting — will be discussed at the selectmen’s meeting next Wednesday, July 31.
The envisioned changes include a proposed annual fee for a permit that would grant access to both the recycling center and the trash transfer station. The recycling center would have no further charge, while cars going to the trash transfer station would continue to have to pay $5 per visit at the toll gate by the weigh-station that trucks go through.
The annual permit price proposed is $20 for residents and $30 for out-of-towners.
Research by the town shows nine neighboring communities charge from $10 (New Fairfield) to $90 (Newtown) for similar annual permits, with the exception of Wilton, which doesn’t charge.
As projected in a memo by Assistant Town Engineer Jake Muller, who is overseeing the project, 3,000 annual permits at $20 each will bring in $60,000 a year, to supplement a projected revenue of $14,400 a year from sale of recycled commodities.
The costs of the new system are projected at $61,500 a year, most of it going to Winter Brothers, the waste hauling contractor that would operate the center and haul the compacted recyclables to its plant.
Although the vote at Tuesday’s special meeting was only to approve money for the pouring of the concrete pads, there was some discussion of the overall plan.
Selectman Andy Bodner thought commercial trash haulers should be charged to help cover the cost of hauling off the recyclables.
“I don’t think the town should be losing that spread to help the commercial guys,” he said. “We’re losing $10 to $15 a ton.”
Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark was worried people would try to slip bagged garbage into the free recycling compactor, rather than pay $5 to take it to over to the transfer station.
“I want to encourage recycling,” she said, “but I don’t want people to try to beat the system.”
The driveway will eventually be reconfigured, so that access to both facilities will be by the same entrance.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the board that the discussion of the new system could resume at next Wednesday evening’s meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 — an hour earlier than usual — in town hall’s lower level meeting room.
“You can sleep on this, digest it,” he told the board. “…We can talk about the permit fees, how you want to do it.”