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Recycling made easier

Kile Markwick puts lids on some of the 5,000 recycle collection bins being assembled for Bainbridge Disposal. The single-source recycle totes will be delivered to customers in the next few weeks. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Kile Markwick puts lids on some of the 5,000 recycle collection bins being assembled for Bainbridge Disposal. The single-source recycle totes will be delivered to customers in the next few weeks.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

There will be no more special trips to the recycling center to unload unwanted boxes. No more cramming stacks of newspapers into straining blue bins, or pawing through piles of plastics to extricate an offending tin can.

As of April 1, all recycling - with the exception of glass - will be equal in the eyes of Bainbridge Disposal, and all will be collected in new 64-gallon totes.

The island refuse service is switching to a “single-stream” system, which means recycling of all persuasions will be collected en masse. Only glass will be set aside to be picked up in the familiar blue totes.

Island recycling will be trucked to a mainland plant and sorted on conveyor belts with a system of blowers and magnets.

Five thousand rolling totes are stacked and awaiting duty at Bainbridge Disposal’s facility off Sportsman Club Road. Two new trucks equipped with special lifts to pick up the cans stand by.

“It’s an expensive initial investment,” said Heather Church, who, along with her husband, Dean, owns Bainbridge Disposal. “But we think it will be worth it in the long run.”

Some of the switchover cost may be passed on to the customer. Bainbridge Disposal has applied for its first residential rate increase in 10 years, in part to cover the cost of the single-stream program.

The rate jump must be approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, and would at most amount to a 13 percent increase, also effective April 1.

Over time, disposal services can save money with a single-stream system through increased efficiency. With the sorted system recycling is collected in divided trucks that had to return to the transfer station when they filled up with one type of recycling, even if the other compartments were empty. Employees will no longer have to load the individual bins by hand.

In the spirit of reusing, Bainbridge Disposal last week equipped its recycling fleet to run on biodiesel.

Customers can expect a new tote to be dropped off in their driveway by the end of the month. Recycling will be picked up every other week, beginning April 7.

“It just makes more sense to show up every other week instead of showing up every week just to pick up a few newspapers,” Church said.

With the new system, a few previously prohibited items will be welcomed into the program.

Flattened cardboard will now be collected along with milk cartons and plastic milk jugs. Soiled cardboard, like pizza boxes, can be tossed into yard waste totes, as can shredded paper.

Church believes those added items along with bigger collection bins and the convenience of the single-stream system will greatly increase the volume of recyclables collected on Bainbridge.

In 2007 Bainbridge Disposal hauled away 5,785 tons of recycling from island customers while gathering 8,000 tons of garbage from residential customers alone.

The company already switched its Poulsbo routes to a single-stream system in October and has since seen the amount of collected recyclables rise by over 40 percent there.

Kitsap County Recycling Coordinator Dave Peters said Bainbridge will be the last region in the county to get the service. Bremerton customers haven’t sorted their recycling for over three years.

The system has helped streamline disposal services he said, and cut down on Labor and Industry claims because workers no longer have to heft those overloaded blue bins. It has also been a boon for customers who can recycle more and throw away less, he said.

“The main advantage is that customers can recycle a lot more, and it’s much more convenient,” Peters said. “Everyone who has switched to the service loves it.”

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Stepping in mid-waste stream

For more information the single-stream recycling program or how the proposed rate hike would impact your bill, contact Bainbridge Disposal at 842-4882 or 800-531-1918.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is reviewing Bainbridge Disposal’s rate increase request and is accepting public comment. Comment can be made online at www.utc.wa.gov/comment or by mail at P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504.

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