LOCKPORT – Every community in Niagara County that uses a wheeled recycling tote and has pickup every second week recycles a greater percentage of its trash than those that don’t use the tote system.
That’s the summary of the county’s recycling report for 2013, recently submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation by Dawn M. Timm, the county’s environmental coordinator.
The trend shows that Niagara Falls, which currently recycles a far smaller percentage of its garbage than any other community in the county, can expect to shoot up the charts after its new system starts Aug. 1.
“I suspect a leap to occur once the new Niagara Falls program goes online,” Timm said in an email to The Buffalo News.
Because of the size of the city, Niagara Falls’ raw total of 1,820 tons of recycling was tied for second in the county, but its total trash production of 39,400 tons was more than twice as much as any other community.
In 2011, the year the City of Lockport introduced the tote system to the county, no community in Niagara County recycled more than 14 percent of its waste. Last year, 13 of the 20 municipalities were above 15 percent, although the overall rate remained at 11.6 percent, chiefly because of the poor showing by Niagara Falls, which City Administrator Donna D. Owens last month called “terrible.”
Niagara Falls is buying $2.1 million worth of garbage and recycling totes and signed a five-year contract with Modern Disposal of Lewiston for garbage and recycling pickup. But Owens predicted the city will save $500,000 a year on disposal costs when the recycling totes go into use.
Timm said all the communities using totes have seen savings in their disposal costs. Most of the them are Modern customers.
The 2013 recycling champion in term of percentage of trash recycled was the Village of Wilson at 21 percent. The City of Lockport and the Town of Pendleton also broke the 20 percent threshold last year. Lockport had the greatest tonnage recycled, at 2,100 tons.
By comparison, Niagara Falls recycled only 4 percent of its garbage, which actually was down from the 9 percent figure it had in 2011.
That year, the City of Lockport recycled less than 3 percent of its waste, as its only curbside collection was newspaper and cardboard. It didn’t even have 18-gallon carryout recycling bins, which were standard in the most of the county at the time. Now, it recycles 20 percent.
The best recycling percentage among communities that don’t have rollout totes and biweekly collection came in the Town of Lockport, with slightly more than 15 percent of waste recycled in 2013. But all 11 communities that have totes outranked it. Because of its size, the town ranked sixth out of 20 communities in tonnage recycled, at 1,200.
North Tonawanda was the second worst recycling performer, with slightly over 10 percent, although its tonnage was tied for second with Niagara Falls.
The county’s municipalities landfilled or burned 117,740 tons of refuse last year, while recycling 15,555 tons.