Berlin Recycling Efforts Kicked Up A Notch

BERLIN – The Town of Berlin’s recycling program recently took a big step towards being more business friendly.

In addition to regular curbside pick-up, the town now offers a commercial sized container located behind The Globe in Berlin that is capable of handling large quantities of material.

Berlin has had a mandatory recycling program since July of 1992. While it has been effective, some businesses complained over the years that the standard program was unable to keep pace with their disposal needs.

Recently, Grow Berlin Green (GBG), a local campaign aimed at conservation and environmental protection, has teamed up with the town to provide improved recycling coverage.

Steve Farr, a resident of Berlin and director of GBG, was a main advocate of the new, commercial sized receptacle by The Globe.

“There’s always been a good curbside program in place, but no similar service for businesses, especially those downtown,” Farr said. “We decided to remedy that.”

Berlin Public Works Director Mike Gibbons called the new container a, “big success.”

Gibbons gave a brief explanation of what happens to collected materials once they make in to Snow Hill.

“The glass is crushed and can be used for building roads or as a stone substitute,” he said.

Other materials are shipped from the center for further processing. Gibbons stated that plastic is sent to Georgia, paper to Chestertown, Md. and cardboard is bundled up and then shipped to Virginia.

The town paid half of the cost of the container while GBG and the Berlin Main St. program split the remaining amount between them. The Globe then allowed the receptacles to be placed on its lot without charge. Farr said this was a practical move.

“Where the container is now, it is in close proximity to some of the businesses that need it most in the town,” he said.

Businesses are likely to benefit in several ways from the new disposal area. Besides the expediency and positive effect on the environment, Farr also pointed out that the town could see a significant savings.

“The town gets credit against landfill contributions,” said Farr. “There’s a formula in place that factors in how much material is recycled against how much trash the town actually dumps, so the more material recycled the less the town has to pay for their trash.”

According to Gibbons, the Berlin recycling program costs around $14,000 in a three-month period but only generates about a $1,600 credit. As for how Berlin kept the program, despite the fact that it was losing money, Gibbons chalked it up to perseverance.

“The town made a commitment,” he said.

In addition to recycling and conservation activities, Farr brought up GBG’s new ‘terracycling’ program.

“Terracycling is when items that usually can not be recycled are collected and processed,” he said. “Things like candy wrappers and similar materials are collected and then sent to a company which turns the waste into new products. It’s referred to as ‘upcycling.’”

In an effort to supplement GBG’s environmental awareness and education efforts, Farr will be holding a contest for students to promote terracycling. Given the season, the contest has been given a Halloween theme.

“We’re asking students to bring in as many candy wrappers as they can,” said Farr. “Those wrappers will then be sent off to be teracycled. And whomever brings in the most wrappers will receive prizes made from teracycled material.”