The Resource Recovery Commission has asked for the recycling plan to be completed by November. Katie Lauzon said it is on pace to completed on time and the group is rolling out some aspects of it already.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Just before the start of Third Thursday, a city truck rolled onto North Street loaded with recycling bins.
It was a new addition to the event and it is part of the city's new focus on increasing recycling.
In the wake of the City Council rejecting Mayor Linda Tyer's plan to switch to a toter plan for residential trash pick up -- a move eyed to dramatically increase recycling and the cost the city pays to collect and dispose of refuse -- a number of people are now increasing its own recycling efforts.
Resource Recovery Commissioner Katie Lauzon has been working closely with Veronique Blanchard, a municipal assistance coordinator with the state Department of Environmental Protection, on the plan. She said an "education team" has been meeting monthly in crafting a large scale recycling plan for the fall. The hope is to get all organizations -- including the city and trash haulers Republic Services - on the same page.
Lauzon said the group is now working with the schools and are planning to do an assessment of what is being done there and bolster those efforts. They have fliers going around. They are reworking the list of items that can and cannot be recycled. They've revamped the recycling calendar so it is clearer for people and they plan to update the information provided on the city's website. And they are developing cohesive marketing material including rolling out a social media page to share information about recycling.
On Third Thursday, Blanchard and Lauzon stationed themselves outside of 100 North St. handing out recycling bins to residents who may not have had them before.
"We ended up giving away 70ish containers that night," Lauzon said.
Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy added that the city has recognized where it could be better and on Third Thursday placed an array of recycling bins downtown to help increase recycling.
"One of the things we continue to look at is public recycling because we don't have a strong public recycling program," Turocy said. "It is one of those things we constantly need to reinforce."
Guardian Life held an electrics recycling day and took in a large number of televisions. Lauzon said she'd like to see even more of such events to be held in neighborhoods where people lack the ability to travel.
Resource Recovery Commission Chairman Matthew Kerwood added that the city just recently won a small grant which will help implement the efforts.
In other business, Republic Services has responded to complaints that it was performing its job poorly. General Manager Dan Higgins reported the last two months' worth of complaints the company has had in the city.
There were 26 complain in June about missed collections, he said, and, in July, there were 42. Percentagewise, that is less than 1 percent of the households serviced. Higgins said there are two trash trucks and one recycling truck on the road every day and that in June there were nearly 150,000 visits. In July, there was an extra work day and the number of visits surpassed 150,000.
Those missed visits vary in reasons from a driver simply missing the house, to the truck stopping and going to dump while in the middle of a street and not returning back to the same place, to replacement drivers unaware of the nuances in a route, to residents not having the trash out early enough. Sometimes, such as days when it is very hot, the company is running behind schedule and residents have worried that the normal pickup time was missed.
"Some people expect us to be there at a certain time," Higgins said.
He said the company made some internal changes to make sure those calls are being addressed quicker. He said the staff was able to address the missed locations the same day they were reported the majority of the times.
"The urgency of chasing these misses, we've escalated that," Higgins said.
The Resource Recovery Commission questioned the increase in complaints from June until July. Higgins said that is often because workers are told to slow down in hot weather. There was an entire week with temperatures in the 90s. Also in July, many employees take vacations and there are more replacement drivers.
Some of the other typical complaints heard are the replacement of the trash cans. The company has increased its emphasis on having drivers and helpers put cans back where they came from.
Another complaint is that recycling has been thrown in with regular trash. Higgins said often that was because there had been garbage in the recycling. Instead of picking through and separating, many drivers were just tossing the entire thing into the trash. He said drivers are now asked to pull out the trash, recycle the rest, and then sticker the non-trash items so that residents know what can and cannot be recycled.
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U.S. Sen. Edward Markey made three stops in the Berkshires on Friday to speak on education, technology climate change, health care, racial justice and other issuing affecting the nation. click for more