If all goes according to the Ayer Department of Public Works' plans, your days of separating recyclables into multiple bins at home before hauling them to the transfer station and distributing them into multiple bins there should be numbered. The DPW is planning to convert the town's recycling program to a zero-sort system beginning July 1.
That means you'll be able to collect all the common types of recycled goods you do now (paper, newsprint, plastics and glass, for instance) without presorting them at home. And when you arrive at the transfer station, there will be one point of collection for all recyclables and one for trash...and that will be it! (Bulk items will still be handled separately.)
Dan Nason, DPW superintendent, says, "Moving to a zero-sort system will streamline the recycling process for residents, and reducing the number of dropoff points will make trips to the transfer station safer from a traffic standpoint, as well.
"By making recycling easier for residents," he adds, "we are hoping to increase Ayer's recycling numbers, which will save us money, and decrease our tonnage of municipal solid waste (trash), which will also yield savings for the town."
The DPW is currently reviewing quotes from several vendors, but ultimately hopes to go with a single contractor for both recycled goods and MSW. Right now, Ayer's recycled goods are parceled out among several vendors, with trash going to a different company. The DPW's contract with its current MSW firm expires in June, which is part of the impetus behind the current planning effort.
"Uniting these processes under one vendor should ultimately reduce some of the administrative costs we are seeing now," says Nason.
For skeptics who might worry that zero-sort recycling on the residential end means items are not actually being recycled at all or not effectively, Nason offers reassurance. "The vendors' processes are very automated, but they are for-profit companies (selling to companies who use the recycled goods in their own products), so they make sure their sorting is thorough so that the end result can be sold for maximum value."
Stay tuned for updates as the July 1 changeover date approaches!