Old Lyme switches trash pickup provider, offsets rising sanitation costs

Old Lyme — First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder announced last week that the town is switching its trash and recycling pickup provider. The move will save approximately $40,000 annually compared to its previous contract with Old Lyme Sanitation, offsetting other significant trash-processing cost increases expected next fiscal year.

In a recently signed four-year contract, the town agreed to pay $520,000 next fiscal year — with costs rising incrementally over the next three years — to Plainfield-based trash-hauling company Connecticut Waste Processing Materials LLC. As part of that contract, the town will receive, beginning July 1, weekly trash and single-stream recycling pickup to all Old Lyme residents.

Presently, single-stream recycling pickup occurs on a bi-weekly basis throughout town, while the town’s beach areas receive twice-weekly trash pickup from Memorial Day to Labor Day. With the new contract, however, beach areas will receive only once-weekly trash pickup throughout the summer, as well as recycling pickup.

The town went out to bid on the contract last fall after Gary Yuknat, owner of Old Lyme Sanitation, announced he was retiring and would not be renewing the contract with the town, Reemsnyder said. Old Lyme Sanitation has been contracted to pick up trash and recycling for the town for “over 30 years,” Reemsnyder said. The company, according to its website, was founded in 1978 by Yuknat.

Yuknat on Tuesday told The Day that he will not continue his business after retiring. The town, he said, was his only customer.

“We never went outside our border and that was by design,” Yuknat said. Connecticut Waste Processing Materials “gave the town a great deal and the town should be very happy with the new provider,” he said.

Yuknat said he is particularly pleased that Jason Manafort, principal of Connecticut Waste Processing Materials, is also a local living with his family in Old Lyme.

“He’ll now get the same feeling, seeing all the trash cans lining the street, that I’ve gotten all these years,” Yuknat said.

Yuknat, as well as Selectman Chris Kerr and Board of Finance member David Kelsey, helped develop a request for proposals for the new contract and reviewed bids received, Reemsnyder said.

According to the town’s proposed budget, Old Lyme paid $562,397 this year for its trash and single-stream recycling pickup with Old Lyme Sanitation — $40,000 more than what it will pay next fiscal year.

An additional $64,000, however, was budgeted into next year's budget for solid waste processing, driving up the town's recycling and sanitation budget by approximately $30,000 next year.

The additional $64,000 comes from Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, or MIRA — a state quasi-public organization that picks up the town's solid waste at a transfer station in Essex for later processing.

The reason for that increase, Reemsnyder said, is due to rising tipping fees from MIRA. Presently, the town pays $72 for every ton processed with MIRA. On April 1, however, that fee will rise $81.35 per ton, and then again on July 1, to $83 per ton. The town is in the middle of a 15-year contract with MIRA, Reemsnyder said.

“The message really is that we need to think more about what we are throwing away and be more cautious,” she said. “The less solid waste we produce, the less we have to pay in tipping fees.”

Reemsnyder said the town has considered various options to manage those costs, some of which may include providing residents with composting containers to reduce trash produced by food. And though she said the town is not currently considering a pay-as-you-throw program — the idea was tossed around four years ago, she said — it may consider the idea again in the future if costs keep rising.

On average, according to data provided by MIRA to the town, Old Lyme has produced about 245 tons of solid waste per month from 2015 to 2018. Over those years, the town produced an average of 3,273 tons annually. Those numbers have kept steady, more or less, over those years, with fluctuations from month to month.  

The town also may face additional costs with its recycling program in coming years, Reemsnyder said. Separate from its solid waste station in Essex, the town’s recyclables are brought to a transfer station on Four Mile River Road and then are managed by Willimantic Waste.

Reemsnyder said the company has threatened the town with significant fees for not complying with recycling standards. Should the company charge those fees, the town may need to look at additional increases within the budget in the future, resulting in increased taxes, Reemsnyder said.

“This is an opportunity to communicate with our residents about the correct way to recycle and to consider reducing their trash,” she said. "As the fees go up, the only way to keep costs down is to reduce what we are paying for."

Residents are asked to check bit.ly/OLtrash to determine which objects they can and cannot recycle.

m.biekert@theday.com

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