EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – County Executive Rob Astorino Goes Recycling and Saves Green!

I recently had the chance to talk with those at the Office of the County Executive for Rob Astorino from Westchester County in the State of New York.  There was a recent push to make #1-7 plastics 100% recycleable.  Since I knew it would save cash, I thought I’d ask them some questions for you!!

Here is the interview..

1.       What additional revenue is expected to be generated for the County?

I assume you are referring to the County’s recent renovation of its Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Yonkers, which will enable the County to process virtually all plastic food and beverage containers (coded #1-7).  Previously, the facility, one of the first of its kind in the U.S., was equipped to process only plastics coded #1-2.   In conjunction with the MRF renovation, the County amended its Source Separation Law to require that, beginning June 1, 2011, all waste generators, both residential and commercial, recycle all plastic food and beverage containers coded #1-7.

Since this law just went into effect, it is too early to tell how much additional recyclable material will be collected.  Also, since recycling revenue is market driven, revenue generated by the additional plastic material can vary greatly.  However, we estimate that the County will realize approx. $200,000-$300,000 annually in revenue from the sale of the additional plastics coded #3-7.  We also estimate that we will realize approx. $300,000 annually from the sale of material that was previously discarded as garbage. (Because the new MRF equipment is more efficient, it will be able to salvage material that would have been discarded by the older, less efficient equipment.)  Finally, we estimate that we will save approx. $150,000 annually on disposal costs that will no longer have to be paid because plastics #3-7 will now be recycled rather than shipped to the Waste-to-Energy Facility in Peekskill.

2.       How much will it save on emissions?

As stated above, it is impossible to tell exactly how much additional material we will receive, and just as important, what will comprise that additional material.  However, I can tell you that every ton of plastic recycled saves approximately 76 million BTU’s of energy.

3.       Where is the permanent facility to drop off CFLs?

The County has broken ground on construction of a permanent Household-Material Recovery Facility (H-MRF) on Woods Rd., located within the County’s Grasslands Campus, in Valhalla.  We anticipate that the H-MRF will be opened before the end of the year.  In addition to CFLs, the H-MRF will provide a year-round location for residents to dispose of household chemicals, tires, propane tanks, electronic waste, expired and unused medications, and other common household wastes.  It will also offer confidential document shredding services.  In the meantime, the County is offering a Household Material Recovery Day event on September 24, 2011, from 8am-4pm, at the MRF, located off of the NYS Thruway (Exit 6A) in Yonkers.  Residents will be able to dispose of the same items that will be accepted at the H-MRF.  Additionally, most municipalities in Westchester allow residents to drop off CFLs, as well as electronic waste, at their local DPW yards.  In most cases, these items are then collected by the County.

4.       As for the veggie oil, how much is it saving in petroleum?

Under County Executive Astorino’s leadership, County departments have searched for opportunities to reduce expenditures, while continuing to offer helpful services to our residents and businesses whenever feasible.  To that end, we have identified a private company that has offered to assume the County’s vegetable oil collection program.  This Westchester-based company has agreed to collect used vegetable oil from the approx. 150 establishments now being serviced by the County at no cost, and to pay these facilities and restaurants $0.10 for each gallon of oil they collect.  The approx. 5,000 gallons of vegetable oil collected monthly, is used to produce a biodiesel that is used as a substitute for diesel fuel.  The County will continue to collect used vegetable oil from County facilities and use it to in a 5% blend with heating oil to heat County properties.

5.       How does the County Executive feel about being an environmental leader worldwide?

County Executive Astorino is proud of Westchester County’s longstanding role as a leader in the environmental field.  The County Executive has stressed that recycling and re-using resources not only protects the environment for our enjoyment and the enjoyment of future generations, but it also saves money for the County and its taxpayers.  Last year, the County realized almost $6 million in revenue from the sale of recyclable materials collected at the MRF.  If these materials were not recycled, it would have cost the County almost $7 million to dispose of them.  County Executive Astorino is committed to exploring initiatives that make both environmental and fiscal sense.