Published August 20. 2013 4:00AM
Old Lyme - The company that handles recycling here is warning the town it could face fines or penalties if residents continue to place banned items such as trash-filled bags in their recycling bins.
The Board of Selectmen on Monday night reminded residents of the importance of paying attention to what goes into the recycling bins and considered solutions, such as mailing letters to residents, to raise awareness of the problem.
The town received a letter this month from Willimantic Waste Paper Co. Inc., stating that the company had noticed "a tremendous amount of unacceptable items in the single stream recyclable materials being delivered." The company primarily found trash-filled plastic bags, but also saw food waste, diapers, garden hoses, Styrofoam, clothing and furniture, among other items.
The company included in the letter a list of items prohibited for recycling - which also included electronics and soiled pizza boxes - which the town posted on its website.
Since the item was brought to the town's attention, the selectmen communicated with Shoreline Sanitation, which picks up recycling, to pay attention to any prohibited items it finds.
The selectmen are looking into the costs of mailing letters to residents to remind them of the recycling requirements, but the selectmen also decided to look for opportunities when the town is sending out other correspondence such as tax bills to make the endeavor cost-effective. The selectmen also discussed contacting real estate agencies to post signs in rental properties, just in case visitors are not aware of the town's recycling system.
In 2011, the town had introduced single stream recycling in which residents deposit all recyclable materials - from paper boxes to rinsed glass bottles - into green bins without sorting them by type. Residents toss trash into blue bins.
First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said recycling provides a great resource to the town, because the more items that are recycled, the less trash needs to be processed.
She explained that single stream recycling should be continued.
"This is very convenient, but it comes with a price," said Reemsnyder. "We should not integrate our recycling with our trash."
Selectman Arthur "Skip" Sibley Jr. also brought up that the town should do whatever it can to alert residents of the problem. But if the problem persists, the town could consider fining residents who continue putting prohibited items in recycling.