If This Doesn't Make Single-Stream Recycling Clear, Tell the Town Here!

RTM Member Dot Kelly, chair of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee, spoke to the Representative Town Meeting on Monday about new developments in Daren recycling. Here's what she had to say:

Editor's note: The document attached to this article is supposed to clarify for you how to comply with Darien's single-stream recycling policy, which is about to start this spring.

After looking over the document, if there's anything you're still confused about concerning recycling rules in Darien, please tell Dot Kelly, chairnan of the Darien Transfer Station Advisory Committee, either by email at dot@dkelly.org or in the comments section below, and Kelly (and the advisory committee) will consider your comments before the draft document is finalized.

Here's a report, slightly revised, on Darien recycling which Kelly gave to the Darien Representative Town Meeting (of which she's a member) on Monday evening:

Thank you for inviting me to speak to the RTM on the efforts of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee.  The Committee was formed by the [Board of] Selectmen on Oct. 15, 2012.

It’s members are:

Dot Kelly, Chairman

Carolyn Bayne

Susan Cameron

Craig Flaherty

David Genovese

Connie Melvin

Allison Stolar (RTM Public Works)

Ex-officio Members:

Finley Wetmore, High School Student Representative

Bob Steeger and Darren Oustafine Public Works Department

Jayme Stevenson (our fabulous first selectman)

Sarah Seelye (the moderator of your august institution)


Interested public members that are full participants and very valuable:

Mark Adiletta (RTM Public Works; ex officio member)

Steve Anderson (RTM Public Works)

Peter Eenkema Van Dyk

Terry Gaffney

Reese Hutchison

Chris Oxer (of City Carting—contracted to operate the single stream recycling and MSW operations)

Debbie Parnon

Ed Sweeney, and last but certainly not least,

Wendy Ward


They are a terrific, fun, hardworking group!  Want to help?  Feel free to join us.

What have we been doing since we were formed 3 months ago?

The Transfer Station Advisory Committee is charged with

  • Developing a public education program emphasizing single stream recycling and other items that can be recycled, but are not single stream.
  • Examining the business model of the transfer station
  • Evaluating other recycling initiatives (e.g. composting, paint, textiles)


We’ve investigated how the Transfer Station has changed in the last 5 years. 

We’ve studied the costs, revenues, and how our neighboring towns manage their recycling and solid waste operations.  We are now further studying specific areas so that our committee can report to the Selectmen with options and recommendations. 

Specifically to single stream, we’ve figured out what materials are acceptable in the expanded definition of single stream that public works instituted at the Transfer Station in May 2012.  That is the “Detailed List of YES you can!  Single Stream Recycling” that was emailed to RTM members this morning and will be available on the Transfer Station Advisory Committee section of the Town of Darien website. [It's attached to this article.]

We’ve developed a hauler and resident single stream implementation and education plan which we are presenting to the Selectmen next Monday to kick off improved single stream recycling in Darien.

As our committee has studied single stream and the activities at the “Transfer Station” also affectionately called “the dump” we believe the Darien Recycling Center is a more appropriate moniker for the materials managed at Ledge Road.   Even the trash sent off for disposal is recycled by creating energy.  So, why not start now—thus, I’ll be using the term Recycling Center. 


The committee has been very pleased with the positive improvements that have occurred since our contract with CRRA ended and we entered into a contract with City Carting to operate many of the areas of the Darien Recycling Center.

Increasing single stream volume will help reduce our subsidy of the recycling center because we get a modest revenue for single stream, and save the cost of disposal of MSW at the trash to energy plant, for a savings of about $100 per ton.  Thus besides the improved environmental benefit from recycling over burning, there is an economic benefit as well.

Regarding revenues—our Public Works Department has for the last 15 years tried to set prices for haulers at about the cost of managing the material.  Thus haulers and commercial users pay per ton for all materials that are tipped at the Recycling Center, except for single stream recycling which has no tip fee.  For residential users, we’ve had two prices for recycling center permits, which gives stickers for all cars associated with the family; $34 if the family has a trash hauler and $110 if the family does not have a hauler. 

Our statistics show that almost 50 percent of our households do not purchase any recycling center permit.  Considering that we now have an active Swap Shop, brush and leaf recycling, battery recycling, electronics recycling, motor oil recycling and appliance recycling in addition to single stream recycling, it’s not clear how those households are managing.  Just a show of hands—how many in the audience have a Darien recycling center permit?  (The response was almost every person in the room.)

Let me talk specifically to single stream:

One huge change over the past year is that we now, as of May 2012, recycle paper, glass, cardboard, plastic and metal as a single stream and the list of acceptable materials is dramatically increased.

This list was emailed to you and some hard copies are available.

The important take away is that basically all paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal is recyclable.  Single stream recycling is for those smaller items.  Large metal or plastic items can be recycled directly at the recycling center.

So the first question is “Is the material a paper, cardboard, plastic, glass or metal?”   The next important requirement is that it be loose, empty and only lightly soiled.

It needs to be loose so that it can be sorted at the single stream recycling plant.  It needs to be empty, because its original contents are probably not “paper, cardboard, plastic, glass or metal”.  And it must only be lightly soiled.  This allows judgment as to the type and amount of contamination. 

Example:  Pizza box.   Peanut butter jar.  A pizza box that has the oily waxed paper removed, but still has some oil splotches on the cardboard box is great for single stream.  A plastic peanut butter jar, on the other hand, typically has too much, hard to remove, peanut butter still in the jar to make it suitable for single stream.

Communities that have gone to single stream recycling, like Greenwich, Westport and Stamford, have seen decreases in MSW and dramatic increases in recycling.  In these communities, the typical homeowner has one garbage pick-up a week and one single stream pick-up a week. 

So the first steps of our committee’s work has been done.  We’ve now almost finalized the list of single stream materials and would appreciate that you let us know if the list is confusing and how we can make it more clear.  Please call or email me, as chair of the committee, if you have comments.  Dot Kelly 324-6996 or my email, dot@dkelly.org. [This applies to readers on Patch, too, Kelly said.]

Have you heard the one about the bin at the recycling center with a sign that said “Empty water bottles here”?  Pretty soon,  . . . .the bin was full of water! 

We realize signage and education needs to be done right. .  ..and we can use all the help we can get.

Feel free to also give us your view on referring to the Public Works materials management operation at Ledge Road  (which includes single stream recycling bins, electronics recycling, battery recycling, leaf composting and brush collection, the construction and demolition debris area, the Swap shop, the clothes recycling bins, the municipal solid waste hopper/compactor, the single stream hopper/compactor and the scrap metal collection area) as the Darien Recycling Center. 

However, recycling is not the only facet of environmentally thoughtful consumption.  As one of our members, Darien Environmental Group president, Connie Melvin, likes to say, “there are four key prongs to environmentally improved materials management: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”  We are lucky to have Connie chairing our sub-committee on education.

Next steps:  On February 4th we are presenting a recommendation to the Selectmen for education of our citizenry so that residents, whether they bring their recyclables to the Recycling Center directly or use one of the 5 Darien haulers, are better informed about the large number of materials that can be recycled.  At a meeting with Darien’s haulers last week, our haulers all confirmed that they are picking up single stream recycling now.  Our haulers asked that we suggest you call your hauler if you have any questions. 

On Feb. 1, Public Works is improving the process for haulers to tip single stream at the recycling center.  One of the two compactor bays will be designated for single stream, which will mean the single stream process for haulers will be automated and dry.  This is a huge operational advance for single stream management at the recycling center.

On the week of Earth Day, starting on Monday April 22 , the actual official Earth Day, the residential haulers will be shifting their schedules so that they are generally picking up one day for garbage and one day for recyclables.  There will be more information about this transition directly from your haulers. 

Additionally, under the leadership of Allison Stolar, as subcommittee chair of the recycling center operations sub-committee, we are preparing a report for the Selectmen about some economic and operational options our town may want to consider that include managing fluorescent light bulbs and unusable textiles, as well as economic alternatives to reduce the subsidy required by the recycling center. 

The third prong of our work is to engage with our business community to help them utilize single stream recycling to comply with the state recycling requirements and to dramatically reduce the amount of commercial waste that is thrown out.

Thank you for allowing our committee to update the RTM on our progress.  We thank you for your willingness to serve the town as elected officials.

Joe Pankowski January 30, 2013 at 12:48 PM
...single-stream recycling is fantastic. Saves me nearly five minutes each weekend at the dump and has freed-up more parking near the recycling area because people are in-and-out much faster. Thanks to all who made this possible.
Bren Jacobsen January 30, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Less than a month ago I moved to Stamford from Darien. The system here includes a large green toter for single stream recycling. This large cavernous bin on wheels is emptied on Tues. only and non recyclables are placed in a second toter and hauled away twice a week. Recycling is easy because most trash is reusable in some fashion and i love the fact that the city does single stream recycling. The key here is the contract set up with the hauler and the sheer volume of recyclables that r taken away.. I used Darien Disposal service for years in Darien and from my experience they were not keeping my recyclables separate from the other trash. Glad to hear that one bay at the Darien Recycling Center will be designated for single stream recycling. This will help the haulers do it better. It is easier for me to do single stream recycling with the large bin provided and the one day pick up. Hats off to Carolyn Bayne, Dot Kelley and the committee in Darien for all the positive changes towards single stream recycling. For a youtube recycling laugh and more inspiration ...http://www.reduceyourwaste.ca/
Chris January 31, 2013 at 04:10 PM
As Alice says I'm pretty sure that as recently as 2012 my carting company just dumped the recyclables in with the trash on one of their two pick-ups.
Chris January 31, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Gee, I didn't notice any changes at the dump two weeks ago. I take my cardboard there myself every couple of months and the dumpsters seemed segregated like they have always been. I guess the changes are even newer.


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