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Apr 1, 2015 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Looks To License Garbage Collectors

Apr 1, 2015 10:47 AM

State regulations that press local municipalities to keep closer tabs on the amount of garbage and recyclables generated by their residents have spurred a proposal to license private garbage collection companies in Southampton Town.

In Southampton Town, an estimated 80 percent of refuse is collected and taken to out-of-town dumping facilities by private carters, rather than deposited at municipal stations. The licensing proposal would require carters to issue regular reports to the town on how much of which types of refuse they collect.

“Only 15 percent of our waste comes through our transfer stations,” Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said. “So it’s hard for us to get a handle on what’s happening in our 140 square miles.”

The town’s lead engineer and director of facilities, Christine Fetten, said the State Department of Environmental Conservation requires towns to issue regular reports on how much trash is being produced within its borders, and how much of each type of recyclable materials is being collected. But with most of the trash leaving the town in private trucks, she said, the town currently has a view of only a fraction of the totals.

“This is an effort to get more detailed information about what is being taken out of the Town of Southampton,” Ms. Fetten said. “The DEC mandates require annual reports from transfer stations, but they don’t represent the true value of the quantities being moved.”

Under the proposal, the town would charge a carting company $500 for its first license, which would be good for one truck. Each additional truck to receive a license would cost $50. Ms. Fetten said the licensing effort would also allow the town to monitor carters’ vehicles for proper containment and compliance with Department of Motor Vehicle standards.

The licensing proposal is a component of a four-year re-crafting of the town’s solid waste management plan, which dates to the years when the town maintained a largely unregulated open landfill at what is now the North Sea transfer station. The landfill was abandoned and capped in the 1990s, and is now used to collect trash and recyclable materials that are shipped out of town for ultimate disposal.

In East Hampton, the issue of keeping tabs on trash is muted somewhat because the town’s recycling facilities accept all types trash from private carters. Highway Superintendent Steven Lynch, who oversees the town’s two transfer stations, says about 13,000 tons of trash comes through the town’s stations each year, and is sorted, baled and sold by the town.

Mr. Lynch acknowledged that a large amount of trash is still picked up by private carters and taken out of the town without being tracked, but he said the town has not discussed plans to step up reporting of its residents’ waste.

For the most part, carters did not object to the Southampton licensing proposal, beyond some concerns about cost and logistics that were raised at recent discussions of the licensing.

“I have no problem with it, because we’re doing it all already,” said Skip Norsic, owner of Emil Norsic & Son Inc., a sanitation company based in Southampton. “We take all our [non-recyclable trash] to Brookhaven or Babylon … each load is weighed, and then we get a bill for every trip we make, which has the tonnage listed right there.”

Mr. Norsic said that he would like to see some tweaking of the fees, so that a separate permit would not have to be purchased for every single truck the company maintains, since some are rarely used.

John DiVello, owner of Peconic Recycling, a North Fork-based recycling operation, told the board last month that he was worried that the licensing requirements might inhibit a trend toward single-stream recycling, which allows all recyclable materials to be disposed of together and then sorted en masse later.

Brookhaven and Southold towns have recently opened municipal single-stream recycling centers, and Peconic Recycling opened a single-stream sorting facility in Cutchogue in February. Forcing individual businesses or homeowners to separate recyclable materials from other garbage, according to Mr. DiVello, only increases the carbon footprint of refuse collection, because it requires multiple truck trips.

“The whole industry is going the other way,” he said. “Everything you throw away is recyclable to us—we’ll recycle everything out of your garbage. There’s no reason to put four trucks on the road.”

Other observers of the industry said that with the licensing effort must come enforcement, without which the new law will be hollow and unfair to those operations that comply with the town’s mandates.

“We need to get a mechanism in place that protects those people who are buying permits so that there are not people still picking up garbage without the permits,” said Dan Gebbia, a member of the town’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee. “You’ve got 40 small guys with two trucks who aren’t going to want to pay $500 for the first truck and still going around picking up. The permitting, if it’s enforced, will weed out some of those small guys, which is a good thing. But I know we’re shorthanded on code enforcement, and it’s unfair to just permit and then say it’s really not going to be regulated that well.”

Ms. Fleming said that stepping up monitoring of carters, to identify who all the various carters working in the town are and ensure they are licensed, is what the revenues raised from the license fees would go toward.

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I guess SH Town will never actually collect garbage themselves like every other normal American township.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Apr 3, 15 11:59 AM
I hope not. I have no belief that the town would be able to operate a comprehensive garbage and recycling service for less than the $425 I now pay annually.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Apr 3, 15 6:52 PM
In Huntington, NY they have garbage districts with a single conract carters who also pick up yard waste and appliances for about even money to your rate, EXCEPT the expense is tax deductible. Think about how much less traffic we would have.
By TheTurtle (143), Southampton on Apr 4, 15 9:16 PM
Good for Huntington, our system works well
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 5, 15 7:54 AM
Sounds more like a tax on local companies -

“This is an effort to get more detailed information about what is being taken out of the Town of Southampton,”

You already know approximately 15% goes through the town transfer station. Just do the math.
By SHResident (59), Southampton on Apr 3, 15 12:20 PM
Not that easy. The waste stream jacks up exponentially during the summer, especially after holiday weekends.

I'd be more interested to see regulations saying construction dumpsters should have tarps covering them to keep debris from being blown about town by the weather.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 3, 15 5:16 PM
Money, money, money. That's all this is about. Any other stated reason is a lie.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Apr 3, 15 1:38 PM
3 members liked this comment
It's the same as the town contracting license. They say you have to have it but they never enforce the law. Just another way to tax local companies trying to do the right thing. Emil is right. The amount of garbage produced is documented. You don't need 500 dollars to get the answer.
By fish sticks (53), hampton bays on Apr 4, 15 6:34 AM
Since 85% of town residents have garbage collection that means they aren't buying the Green bags from the town. This is the towns way of recouping lost revenue for the transfer stations. The fee in-posed on the carters is just going to be passed along to its customers. So rates will increase. Thanks Southampton Town.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Apr 4, 15 9:31 AM
Another reason for Christine Fetten to justify her over $100,000.00 a year salary. I don't know what I'm doing but I'll challenge and charge private businesses that are already monitored per capitalism with a license I won't even monitor to justify my position as "environmentalist" and waste manager. Who is going over her books? NOBODY!
By lirider (288), Westhampton Beach on Apr 4, 15 2:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just another unnecessary expansion of government. First it's the fees on the carters, and yes it's OK if we push the little one or two truck guys out of business, then it's"we need more money to hire more officers to enforce the unnecessary license law we passed".
By bird (829), Southampton on Apr 4, 15 5:03 PM
2 members liked this comment
Leave the garbage collection be. At least I know when they are picking up, AND I SAVE MONEY by not fooling around with the silly "Mr Bag It" green bags that cost the town a small fortune to come up with the mascot.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Apr 5, 15 7:21 AM
I just throw my garbage over the back fence and the wildlife preserve people pick it up. It's convenient and free! So what's all the fuss?
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Apr 6, 15 11:52 AM
1 member liked this comment