Municipalities realize recycling savings.
Northeast Cartage was developed in 2005 as a way to process recyclables including plastics, cardboard and paper, aluminum and steel cans.
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS, STAFF WRITER / PUBLISHED: OCTOBER 13, 2013
HANOVER TWP. - Nanticoke City Manager Pam Heard looked around the sprawling Northeast Cartage & Recycling Solutions plant site, with trucks coming and going and the constant rumble of machinery.
"I didn't realize all of this was here," she said before starting a tour of the facility.
On Wednesday, Nanticoke council plans a vote to make single-stream recycling, where residents can put all their recyclables in one bin for collection, mandatory.
The city is the latest local community to adopt the procedure, which municipal officials say saves money and is more convenient for residents.
Northeast Cartage, part of longtime metal recycler Louis Cohen & Sons located off Fellows Road in Hanover Township, was developed in 2005 as a way to process recyclables including plastics, cardboard and paper, aluminum and steel cans.
The company has 25 full-time employees who receive benefits including health care and retirement plans, Nockley said.
He said there's a fleet of 30 trailers, a fleet of tractors and hundreds of recycling collection containers - Northeast Cartage will transport recyclables, but won't do curbside collection routes.
"This plant has the capacity to serve every municipality in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties," said the plant's co-owner, Frank Nockley Jr.
Some communities, like Butler, Dorrance and Jenkins townships, collect the recyclables in containers, which Northeast Cartage drops off and picks up. Other municipalities, like Old Forge, Edwardsville and Wilkes-Barre, bring their recyclables in. Wright Township started single-stream recycling a year ago. So did Black Creek Township.
Northeast Cartage also works with school districts, including Dallas, Pittston Area and Wyoming Valley West. The company provides the school buildings with wheeled totes and collects them when they're full, he said.
Businesses also use the facility's service. "With our private fleet, we bring in commingled recycling from almost every industrial park around here," he said.
The communities all have one thing in common, according to Nockley: they all say within a 12-month period they're sending more to be recycled and less to the landfill.
"To me, that was the biggest compliment - that we made recycling more accessible."
Dallas Area Municipal Authority, which provides refuse collection services to about 6,850 Dallas Borough, Dallas Township and Kingston Township residents, was the first in the area to start single-stream recycling.
"For us it's been working really, really well, and we're thrilled with it," DAMA Executive Director Larry Spaciano said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is trying to get municipalities to recycle 25 percent of the total refuse they collect. DAMA members averaged more than 40 percent last year, Spaciano said.
The higher the volume of recyclables, the larger the DEP recycling performance grant municipalities are eligible for.
In Kingston, the first West Side municipality to go single-stream, recycling is also up, by 10 percent, and garbage being landfilled is down 7 percent, Administrator Paul Keating said.
"I think it's an overwhelming success with the residents. I've had nothing but positive feedback since its implementation," he said, noting that it's a "big success and improvement in terms of convenience and quality of service to residents."
Single-stream recycling has freed up public works employees for other projects and resulted in some fuel savings by going to Hanover Township instead of the landfill, Keating said.
The only drawback is, "it beats the hell out of our equipment," he said. The truck is used harder, so has more wear and tear due to the increased quantities of material. Keating hopes the municipality will get a DEP grant for new collection equipment.
Currently, Nanticoke residents have recycling each week, but one week is cardboard pickup, the next is plastics.
Seeing how single-stream recycling worked for DAMA and Kingston gave Heard the idea of trying it in the city.
And when Nanticoke officials found out they could get money - at least $25 per ton of recyclables, depending on market value - by switching, they opted to put out a request for proposals.
Refuse hauler J.P. Mascaro & Sons will collect the recyclables and drop them off at Northeast Cartage. In September, council awarded Mascaro a new contract starting at $843,678 the first year, saving the city $104,178.
Nanticoke officials hope to be able to make $50,000 to $60,000 through the new commingled recycling, which will not only help cover the cost, but Heard believes it will enable the city to knock at least $10 off residents' annual refuse collection fees. These start at $220.
Not only is it better for the environment, it's cheaper for municipalities to send recyclables to be reprocessed than to a landfill.
When Wilkes-Barre's more than 25,000 households first began single-stream recycling a year ago, there were a few bugs and glitches, Director of Operations Butch Frati admitted.
But things are running smoothly now.
"We're very pleased with the way it's been going so far," Frati said.
Sales of Wilkes-Barre's distinctive blue garbage bags are down, and the amount of recycling the Department of Public Works is delivering to Northeast Cartage in Hanover Township has increased, while the city is saving on tipping fees at the landfill, Frati said.
"I think the more communities that sign up for this, the better for everybody," he said.
How the facility works
Appropriately, the recycling business, which represents a $6 million investment, grew on recycled land: The Earth Conservancy sold Northeast Cartage a parcel of reclaimed coal mining property, Nockley said.
"It's a very noisy, very dirty place," Director of Operations Al Gulitis told Heard on the tour. "However, we're proud of it and we love what we do here."
As trucks come in, they are weighed before being sent down to the tipping floor to unload. This floor is covered to keep the recyclables as clean and dry as possible, Nockley said. They don't stay in there long enough to freeze, according to Gulitis.
Part of the sorting is done manually, part automatically.
Front-end loaders move the recyclables into a drum feeder, which spreads them on a conveyor belt so hand-pickers at the pre-sort station can go through it to see what's in there, Gulitis said. Plastic bags are fed into a vacuum and sucked into a container for a different recycling process.
From there, cardboard, paper and glass are sorted automatically. Cardboard goes to a holding bunker for baling, Gulitis said. Plastic drops to a second conveyor belt for the colored, high-density plastic - such as laundry detergent bottles - to be manually separated from the lighter, more "natural" plastic like water bottles.
A powerful magnet carries off the steel food cans. A machine creates a negative charge that pulls out the aluminum, Gulitis said.
When the recyclables are processed, Gulitis said there are seven or eight different commodities.
For example, the paper is used for such things as insulation, sheetrock and hand towels, he said. The bales are ready to ship for domestic sale, and the export paper market is also very good, Gulitis said.
Heard left the facility impressed. She said Nanticoke will probably have public meetings to educate people about the new recycling procedure, and order refrigerator magnets that list what can be recycled.
Since garbage and recycling are on the same day, it will make it even easier for residents, she said.
"If people get into this and comply, in three years, we could see more savings," she said. firstname.lastname@example.org/span>