Brookhaven Town has decided to table awarding a recycling contract bid for another week or so, pending discussions about single vs. dual stream recycling, last Friday, Nov. 2 during a special meeting. The need for another operator came after Green Stream, their recycling operator for the past four years, pulled out citing the increasingly difficult task of trying to move the commodity. The scramble to recycle incoming materials has since been underway.
Brookhaven Town chief of operations, Matt Miner, said the town opened the bid for an emergency contract with a recycling operator last week. Thus far, about three interested companies submitted, supplying rates for both dual and single stream operations.
However, Miner said, he and the commissioner of the Department of Recycling and Sustainable Materials Management, Christopher Andrade, felt more time was needed to discuss the impact of dual vs. single stream in the sense of operations, marketability and finances.
In the meantime, materials are still being picked up from residences and moving through recycling facilities in the area and across the state and into New Jersey. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said the town did what had to be done to ensure materials were still being recycled.
“We made arrangements and have been trucking materials to facilities. We have moved more than half of the materials collected in two days and [it] should be no issue for the next few weeks,” assured Andrade addressing the board during the special meeting.
Green Stream, who pulled from their contract as of Oct. 22 and later agreed to extend operations until Oct. 29, has also continuously been on site cleaning up remaining materials leftover from their previous operations.
“They made decent progress thus far moving about 175 to 225 tons of materials left on the ground there on a daily basis,” said Andrade. “I also noticed they moved a few to market, which is a good sign as well.”
George Bateman, president of Green Stream, said the company notified the town back in July that they could no longer exist under the current agreement and suggested renegotiating the contract with both options for single and dual stream operations. However, he said, at the time, the town refused to consider dual stream, which would, in essence, create cleaner more moveable product.
“We just couldn’t come to terms,” said Bateman. “We were interested in still operating but about a month ago talk just broke. We couldn’t agree on the right number and costs were just too high to operate under the current agreement. This isn’t just a Brookhaven problem; it’s a problem everywhere. Contracts are being renegotiated all over the place.”
Green Stream began struggling to move materials after extremely restrictive regulations and standards were set by China, the number one purchaser of the commodity. The facility became backed up with recyclables spilling out the front and stacked in the back of the building in March but by September they were slowly able to regain control of the recyclables and managing to move materials.
At that time, Bateman told the Advance, forcing residents to become dual stream, separating materials at the curb would certainly help the quality, however, it is a town decision and something he believes residents wouldn’t be happy with. According to the town, single-stream was implemented to encourage and simplify recycling and something that was written into the Green Stream contract, which at the time, had 21 years left.
If an agreement can’t be made and Green Stream is no longer used as the operator, Bateman said the company would dissolve. For now, he said, they have been on site committed to cleaning up the material left behind.
All of the recyclable waste including plastics, fibers, paper and metal are brought to the Brookhaven Materials Recycling Facility in Yaphank from curbside pick up, half of which comes from the Town of Brookhaven the rest is brought in through inter-municipal agreements with about eight towns and villages including Smithtown, Patchogue and Bellport Villages.
Romaine agreed to table the discussion for further discussion siting multiple upcoming meetings including the budget hearing Nov. 8, a work session in between and a regular meeting on Nov. 20. All of which, he said, he could squeeze in an emergency resolution to award a contract.
“We will have a recommendation to the board pretty quickly,” said Miner. “We just need a few more days to fully explore our recommendation.”
The town is now currently discussing whether to return to a dual stream operation, meaning materials are separated before reaching the curb by residence, or continue the single-stream recycling where it is sorted at the facility. The town made the switch originally to single stream in 2014 in an effort to promote recycling.
“Ultimately, we want to do what’s best for the taxpayers,” he added. “The bottom line is we want to recycle and do it in the most cost-effective way.”
Once decided and a bid is awarded, still some adjustments will have to be made to the 2019 budget to accommodate those changes.
Currently, Green Stream owes over $1.7M and, according to the town, the last payment made was in April/May. However, the town refused to comment on whether or not they would be taking legal action citing that they do not discuss pending or potential litigation.
Recyclables at the Brookhaven Town Materials Recycling Facility in Yaphank originally became backed up due to restrictions set by China, the once number one purchaser for the commodity. The back up has becoming increasingly harder to control as displayed in these photos taken late last month.