The large SARAH recycling bins have been in North Haven only since early this year, but they've already made a strong impact on SARAH Recycles, a successful recycling program run by SARAH, the shoreline-based organization that provides programs for people with intellectual and other disabilities.
According to Jim Lamb, manager of business development and employee services for SARAH, 50,000 cans and bottles were processed from North Haven bins alone since the beginning of the year.
For the just ended 2012-'13 fiscal year, the program overall-in North Haven and along the shoreline-processed 815,081 cans and bottles, which represents $40,754. There are 24 SARAH participants who are receiving paychecks from working in the program.
SARAH received a $15,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation to purchase the bins that were in North Haven. Lamb said a goal of the grant was to be able to employ 10 SARAH participants.
"We have 11 or 12 people in North Haven getting some kind of paycheck," he said.
Large recycling bins, which accept cans and bottles with a 5-cent deposit, are located on the North Haven Town Green, Memorial Field, Vanacore Field, Montowese Park, and the North Haven Recycling Center.
Smaller bins are located at local business throughout town, including car dealerships and fitness centers. Lamb said he may have some grant money left to put another large bin near the athletic center in North Haven.
Lamb has been "pleasantly surprised" by how well the program is doing in North Haven.
"The support of the town has helped us jumpstart this program," he said.
Another initiative are the seven or eight plastic bins placed on the Town Green for this summer's Music Under the Stars concert series on Tuesday nights. Lamb said SARAH workers pick them up on the following Wednesdays.
Lamb noted that not only has the program been able to employ about a dozen people, it is keeping many bottles and cans out of landfills.
"It has taken the support of the government and local businesses to make it happen," said Lamb, who noted the support of First Selectman Michael Freda and Public Works Director Lynn Sadosky.
Sadosky said that Lamb told her that people would make an effort to bring their recyclables to the large bins. She has found that to be true.
"I have personally witnessed residents and area businesses bringing their recyclables to the SARAH bins in town," said Sadosky. "It's nice to see that the program works."
"The more volume we get, the bigger the paychecks for the workers," said Lamb. "We'll try to keep growing it. We have enough bins out there to grow this."
Lamb said the entire program, which in addition to North Haven, covers Wallingford, Hamden, Northford, East Haven, Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook, could process about one million units during the current fiscal year, said Lamb.
Even if people can't get to the recycling bins, they can still help support the program.
"If someone's been collecting bags [of bottles and cans] in their basement and garage, we will pick them up," said Lamb.
Residents interested in a pick-up can call Lamb at 203-458-4040, ext. 310.