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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Single Stream Recycling Speeds Disposal Flow

Single Stream Recycling Speeds Disposal Flow:
New system now in effect 
in Fairfield
By Mike Lauterborn
(posted to 7/2)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Some new rules have gone into play that should make Fairfielders’ lives a bit easier when it comes to putting out the trash. As of July 1, Single Stream Recycling is in effect in the Town of Fairfield, giving residents the ability to combine and recycle more materials. Disposal rules vary slightly between those that use a private collection service and those that use the town’s recycling center.

Users of the Transfer Station and Recycling Center on One Rod Highway can now put all plastic containers numbered 1 to 7; metal, glass and food containers under three gallons (rinsed and caps removed); clean aluminum foil; empty aerosol containers; and all milk, juice and juice box cartons in steel receptacles labeled as such (previously marked Bottles/Cans). Junk mail, magazines, colored white or mixed paper, boxboard, paper egg cartons, pasta boxes, food wrap boxes, shoe boxes, tissue boxes and paper bags can now go in receptacles listing those items, once labeled Mixed Paper.

Newspaper recycling and corrugated cardboard disposal continues as before. Electronics may now be placed in one of two new large steel receptacles placed on the site. Items that may not be included as recyclables and must be disposed of as trash include plastic bags, books, medicine bottles, food waste, dishes, used paper plates, plastic toys, sporting goods, Styrofoam, black plastic, pizza boxes and CD cases. Batteries, hazardous chemical containers and motor oil containers all require special handling.

For residents that use private collection, more items can be combined together in their blue bins. This includes all the acceptable bottle/can-type items and paper/cardboard items referred to above. Other items noted above as non-recyclable and those that require special handling cannot be included in the bin and must be handled in a separate, appropriate manner.

Mike Zombruski, Director of Solid Waste Recycling in Fairfield, the department that operates the transfer station and recycling center, said single stream recycling has been around for a while, but in other states and regions. “I remember seeing prototypes 10 years ago,” he said. “It became profitable as the recycling market grew. Processing companies started building facilities.”

Zombruski said that recyclables will be taken first to Stratford, then a contractor there will take them to Hartford.

“We’ve been working on this for over a year,” he said. “We had to bid out the work to secure a contractor.”

Giving some industry background, Zombruski said, “Years ago, in the mid 1970s, the state realized they were facing a solid waste crisis. Landfills were at capacity. They needed some other place to take the trash. The state created CRRA – Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority – to manage the situation. Towns contracted with CRRA to haul the trash, then CRRA contracted, in the early 80s, with Wheelabrator Technologies, a trash-to-energy plant in Bridgeport.”

He continued, “Fairfield’s landfill closed in 1987. Trash was then shipped to an incinerator in Bridgeport and converted to energy. The 18 towns that contracted with CRRA basically funded the operation. Then, in 1990, the IPC (Intermediate Processing Center) was built in Stratford, where the Garbage Museum is, which is where our recyclables now go. They’ve been processed there for the last 20 years, when recycling became mandatory.”

Now the market has opened up and there’s a need for more paper, so recycling plants are accepting more materials. “Essentially, business demands are driving more efficient recycling processes,” Zombruski said.

For guidance to both private collection and transfer station rules, visit

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