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After Franklin ends recycling, residents sort out what it all means

  • A trash truck picks up bins marked trash and recycling along its route in Franklin on Friday, July 27, 2018. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/31/2018 7:21:43 PM

Kristan Skora was disappointed when she heard the city of Franklin was no longer recycling, but she said the decision isn’t going to change the way she organizes waste.

Skora said she plans to continue separating her recycling from her trash. Her family uses the city’s green and gray bins to organize each – and at this point, they’re used to doing it.

“There might be people who don’t care, and say, ‘We’ll just throw it all out.’ But it’s not as healthy for the environment,” Skora said. “We want to stay in the mindset that recycling is the right thing to do.”

The city announced this month that both trash and recycling barrels will be picked up from one refuse vehicle and incinerated at the Wheelabrator trash-to-energy incinerator in Concord, citing rising costs for “single-stream” recycling disposal.

The cost of single-stream recycling has increased worldwide as companies in China, for years the world’s biggest market for single-stream recyclables, announced they would no longer accept the waste because it contains too much unacceptable material, such as food-tainted pizza boxes or types of plastic that can’t be recycled.

This has left cities and towns to cut back on recycling because of costs. Several have stopped accepting glass in single-stream systems, because it can break and contaminate the entire recycling stream, while others have cracked down on people putting non-recyclable material in their bins, such as a push by Concord to remind people not to recycle plastic bags, which snarl the sorting machinery.

In Franklin, a city that scrambled this month to put together a budget after an almost $1 million shortfall in school funding, the cost has meant discontinuing the program.

Resident Pat Palm said the decision was especially discouraging because the push to recycle more in Franklin seemed to be picking up in recent years.

“I think it’s too bad,” said Palm, who owns a pawn shop in downtown Franklin. “You don’t think much about where your trash and recycling is going because you assume good things are being done to it.”

The city has asked that residents continue to sort their waste. That way, if the program is ever reinstated, it will be a smooth transition.

“I know it’s a pain for residents to do it, but it would be harder for people to get out of the habit and then back in the habit again,” City Manager Judie Milner said.

Franklin residents who want to continue recycling can take their material to the town transfer station, something currently done by about 5 percent of city residents, although they’ll have to sort it into glass, plastic, cardboard, paper and other categories, Milner said.

Roland Day, who was enjoying an ice cream outside Central Sweets Candy Store on Tuesday afternoon, said he didn’t think residents were going to rush to recycle at the transfer station.

“There’s no money in this town,” Day said. “People aren’t going to want to put in the work to take that extra step.”

(David Brooks contributed to this report. Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)

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