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How we dispose of unwanted items affects the air we breathe and water we drink. More...

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- by J. Pillo

Trash is always a waste of money.  But Bob Blair and Brandi Spink, new staff at the Woodstock CT Transfer Station, have helped to bring down the costs significantly through a combination of better enforcement of recycling requirements, and improved trash and recyclable compaction.  These actions, along with negotiations for new hauling contracts by Delpha Very, have reduced the operating expenses of the transfer station by $17,000 in FY 03-04 compared to FY 02-03. The amount totaled over $30,000 less than was budgeted for the year. Even so, the $60 annual fee ($45 for senior citizens) town residents pay to use the transfer station does not come any where near the revenues needed for annual operating expenses of the transfer station.  “Sixty dollars a year comes to just $5 a month. Compare that to a curbside service from a private company at over $20 a month.  Even with the fee increase, our transfer station is still a bargain,” said Woodstock First Selectman, Delpha Very.  She is also very proud of the efforts of the transfer station staff.

For most of us, when it comes to our trash, out of sight is out of mind.  However, how we dispose of unwanted items affects the air we breathe and water we drink. For example, freon, a component of refrigerators and air conditioners, impacts the ozone layer. All Freon must be professionally collected from discarded appliances.  It can be recovered and reused in appliances that need a recharge. Mandatory monitoring of the old Woodstock Landfill is a reminder of how an old style unlined landfill can impact groundwater.   

Here are some facts about what happens to your trash and recyclables, provided by Woodstock Highway Foreman, Dwight Ryniewicz:

  • Lead acid batteries are sent to a smelting plant in Texas where the batteries are melted down and recycled.
  • Waste oil and antifreeze are picked up and sent to companies that recycle both products into reconditioned oil and antifreeze.
  • A light bulb recycling program has been implemented. The program is voluntary, but helps protect employee health and safety. The mercury, glass, brass and aluminum are captured, cleaned and reused to make new bulbs.
  • Mandatory recyclables (paper, plastic, glass, metal, etc.) all go to a local hauler in Willimantic. The Town receives some money for the paper and steel. Plastics and glass are being recycled but not currently generating income.
  • The Town has a leaf compost pile and a brush pile. Brush is burned under a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection.  Shipping leaves to a composting operation outside of the transfer station is being evaluated for cost effectiveness.
  • At the transfer station there is a “take it or leave it” shed where people can bring in good quality items they no longer want and others can go in take them for no cost. Items should be clean and in good condition.  Reusing items is the best form of recycling.
  • The Towns’ garbage and bulky waste currently goes to the Preston trash to energy plant.  [Note: Items containing mercury, lead, and cadmium and other toxic metals should not be incinerated.]  In the future it might be sent to Ohio. Ohio has huge landfill areas and is making money by taking other State’s garbage. If this happens, the garbage and bulky waste will go to Willimantic to be ground. Then it will be loaded onto railcars and shipped out.  

The Woodstock Conservation Commission wants to remind people that recycling conserves resources and saves money for the Town.  It is also important to continue the loop by buying products made of recycled materials, such as something as simple as toilet paper made from recycled paper.  Decking materials made from wood and recycled plastic composite materials require less maintenance and do not have harmful chemical preservatives found in some pressure treated lumber.


For more recycling ideas, see the Conservation Commission website www.woodstockconservation.org.


Originally published in Our Town in 2004


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