Friday, December 30, 2011

Reevaluating recycling

I haven't talked nearly as much about the New Paltz Recycling Center as I should have.  Hidden behind the highway garage on Clearwater Road, it's so unknown that Google Maps confused it with the BMX track.

Recycling in New Paltz has had a tumultuous history.  When it was part of the highway department, it was never all that clear how much money it was making or losing, or exactly how many deer carcasses town employees dumped around back.  After it was split off and the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange signed a lease, it didn't get much better, because HVME paid little or nothing and again, it wasn't clear how much the place was making or losing.  Now HVME is gone, and the trailers of stuff belong to the town and are sold by the "ReUse Center."

The center makes most of its money by selling bulk scrap metal and other recyclable materials.  The retail aspect could continue to grow, but I think the way the town collects recycling is bass-ackwards.

Town residents shouldn't pay for a permit, and shouldn't pay to dispose of anything that the center can sell for money.  It's insulting to charge me money to drop off something that you can resell.  Make the permit to recycle free, and charge for garbage, period.  The town of Rochester has a free permit, and they keep it free because supervisor Carl Chipman doesn't want his recession-plagued residents to start dumping garbage on the roads.  You can market the free permit and encourage more people to drop off those cash cows.  It's even been suggested to me that the town could invest in a bottle machine, or some other method, that would allow the often-idle employees to collect more money by retrieving deposit bottles.

The center makes money, and even if it didn't, it improves the quality of life in the town by keeping crap off of our roads.  Let's drop the barriers to recycling and increase how much this underutilized service can make.

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