The Blue Point Civic Association held its October meeting on Monday, Oct. 3 at the Bayport-Blue Point Library.
As a special presentation, Zach Sicardi, from the Town of Brookhaven Recycling Association, spoke with the meeting attendees about waste management, specifically where recycled materials are taken to and how they are treated.
Sicardi began with giving a brief history of recycling law in the Town of Brookhaven, which started with an act passed by New York State in 1988 that codified recycling into state law and was the reference point for local recycling programs that started in the early 1990s.
“The best way to address recycling is to reduce at the source and generate as little as possible,” said Sicardi. “Reuse as many times as possible things like shopping bags, clothing as rags, water bottles.”
All of TOB garbage is incinerated and this produced enough energy to power about 75,000 homes and businesses with the resulting ash goes to Brookhaven landfill.
Sicardi gave a breakdown of what is recyclable and what is not, including numbered plastics.
He made a note that commonly, pizza boxes are sent out with the paper recycling, but only the top of the box, i.e. the non-greasy part can be recycled.
Plastics numbers 1,2,5, are recyclable.
Plastic 1 is typically water and soft drink bottles. Sicardi said, “Home meal kits usually have a plastic labeled 1, but because it is a film plastic is not recyclable.”
Plastic 2 is high-density polyethylene and typically found in sturdier containers like shampoo and detergent bottles.
Plastic 5, which was just added by the Town of Brookhaven last year, includes food-grade plastic such as yogurt cups, sour cream containers, and orange prescription pill bottles. Sicardi recommends that these containers are given a wash before being put in the recycling.
As a special note, caps on plastic bottles should be put in regular garbage as they are a different plastic and the sorting machines remove anything less than 2 inches in size.
Soup cans, soda cans, clean aluminum foil (not soaked in food product) are all highly recyclable.
No scrap metal, including metal hangers, pots and pans, which can cause a danger for the people that work in the processing facility there.
Town employees can be scheduled to pick up scrap metal, washers, dryers, televisions, refrigerators.
Paper and cardboard
Magazines with glossy pages, envelopes with plastic window envelopes, and flattened cardboard boxes are acceptable, as well as cereal boxes and paper towel rolls.
Sicardi advises that all Styrofoam products be thrown out.
One attendant remarked that she took her children to the town landfill to illustrate to them how much it is growing and to instill a sense of civic duty to recycle and cut down on usage.
Sicardi said that schools are often invited to the landfill and that while “some people think it all goes to the landfill, and that’s not true,” he showed a photo of three to four bales of recyclables, each 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, that were ready to be processed to be reused by manufacturers.
“We want to give people faith that recycling efforts are not going to waste and that we sell our recyclables to manufacturers throughout the country and the world.
In 2021, the town had $1.7 million in sales of recyclables.
Sicardi mentioned that the facility’s sorting machines are susceptible to jamming when plastic bags are caught in them and that every day a worker is sent to cut them out, which is both dangerous to the employee and costly to the taxpayer.
Someone asked why there was not actual human personnel sorting through the recycling to weed out the garbage bags.
At the prompting of civic vice president, Alex Wellems, it was learned that the sheer volume of the sorter, at 12 tons an hour, could not physically nor fiscally support dedicated employees to sort.
Sicardi said that while some recyclables get turned into items like benches, where it is not a closed look, paper can be recycled into other paper products and metal can even come back into the market in as little as eight weeks.
Calling glass the “elephant in the room,” Sicardi lamented that having a separate day for glass pick up would be too costly but offered the 13 drop-off sites in the town for glass, including the Henrietta Acampora center in Blue Point, and said that crushed glass was used in construction for municipal purposes.
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