A Stony Brook University study shows recycling in the Town of Brookhaven has dropped 11 percent from 1998 to 2009, down to just 30 percent.
The results of the study were announced at a press conference Tuesday morning at the Town of Brookhaven Waste Materials Recovery Facility in Yaphank.
"We have watched recycling grow to a peak in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and now we’re seeing a gradual decline," said R. Lawrence Swanson, Director of the Waste Reduction and Management Institue in SoMAS at Stony Brook. "I think we can take that as a message that we need to be more aggressive in how we approach our citizens with regard to the importance of recycling."
Acccording to the study, Brookhaven produced 287,550 tons of waste in 2009, 3.2 pounds per person per day. Of that total, 85,730 tons were recycled while 201,820 tons were incinerated. In recycling tons, 16,737 was curbside paper, 10,310 was curbside containers, 2,1555 was bulk metal, 45,748 was yard waste and 10,780 was other recycling.
Town Supervisor Mark Lesko spoke of how important it is for Brookhaven to increase it's recycling numbers, and what the town is doing to improve those numbers.
"We launched, in the last six months or so, a very aggressive public education campaign and we’ve seen the results of that in 2011," Lesko said. "Recycling is up 10 percent in the first quarter from the end of 2010 and we think that’s very encouraging.
"For every five percent we increase recycling, we save $1 million in disposal costs and a half million in the sale of recyclables so it has a real bottom line impact...as well as being very positive for our environment."
Lesko also explained the new Recycle Bank Program, which tracks recycling in the town's 35 district's.
"It will allow residents to track the recycling rates in their collection districts and if they increase they will get certain benefits like coupons to restaurants and those sorts of thing," he said. "Hopefully we’ll get some competition going with recycle bank and start to see those rates increase."
The facility in Yaphank contains a transfer station, yard waste processing center, landfill and more and is currently undergoing a $3 million expansion.