Michael Fowler, director of public works, has heard many complaints about the cramped nature of Derry’s recycling facility. Traffic back-ups are a particular concern. “We have had fights break out,” he said.
The refuse road rage should be greatly reduced when the new Derry Transfer Station opens for business Jan. 5. The facility will streamline the recycling process for residents while also helping the staff seek out better markets for the recyclables, thus generating income for the town and relief for taxpayers.
Transfer Station Director Joanie Cornetta joined Fowler for a tour of the facility recently.
Fowler pointed out the trash drop-off areas along the outside of the new building, with large bins clearly labeled for “household trash,” cardboard, mixed paper, glass, tin/steel cans, aluminum cans, HDPE plastics, PETE plastics, and “everything else plastic.” The bins are under an overhang, so people won’t get wet as they recycle, and the area is lined with 33 angle-parking spaces.
There were six parking spaces in the old facility, Fowler said, and less room to maneuver. The new site, on a hill beyond the old one, has plenty of room for people to move and drop off their recyclables at the same time.
In the former set-up, many of the recyclables were commingled, or placed in a bin together. The new facility allows for better sorting, and that can lead to revenue, Fowler and Cornetta said.
“Enhanced recycling means enhanced revenues,” Fowler explained.
Commingled items fetched a price of about $10 a ton, he said, and separated items bring up to $40 a ton.
“We will find markets,” Fowler said, “and it is projected we can generate revenues of $150,000 a year.”
Fowler and Cornetta started out looking at buildings that would cost $6 to $9 million, but quickly realized that wouldn’t fly in Derry. They talked with Hutter Construction of New Ipswich, who delivered them a “bare bones” building for $3 million. They looked at facilities in Wellesley, Mass., and Lee, and with CMA Engineering of Portsmouth, they fashioned a building that should serve Derry’’s needs. The revenues will pay off the principal and interest on the building, Fowler said.
Though it’s a simple steel shell, it’s better than what Cornetta had. The administrative level features a kitchen/break room, restroom, small file room and a windowed office for Cornetta. As she entered her domain, she scraped her shoe on the doorsill, looked down at the new checkered tile and observed, “I have got to get some doormats.”
It’s also a safety plus, Fowler said, pointing out that with the new building, all the machinery will be inside.
The doors to the bins pull down and lock, thus preventing trash from blowing away or generating odors, Fowler said. “At night we lock this, and nothing gets away,” he said.
And the streamlined design will simplify operations for Cornetta, who serves a town of 33,000 with five full-time and two part-time staff. She started with the Transfer Station in 1990 and there was only one small building, which is still in use. She watched pieces added over the years, in patchwork fashion. “We were outdated,” she said.
“I love it,” she added.
Residents drop their recyclables in the labeled bins and the items go into concrete bunkers. The separated items go into a baler in the center of the lower level, from which they are baled. A 100-yard trailer will be parked in the “pit,” and when it’s full it will be taken out, uncoupled and another driven in.
“We can bale anything, with the exception of glass,” Fowler said. “That has to be crushed.”
The staff did a test run on their own, and bales of cardboard, paper and aluminum cans stood in a corner of the lower level. Fowler reeled off the current prices: 50 cents per pound for aluminum, with a potential revenue of $100,000 based on 75 to 100 tons; milk jugs, 27 cents per pound; and paper, which was $30 per ton, loose, but will bring $40 per ton if baled.
Finding markets is Cornetta’s job, and she works aggressively to get the best deals for Derry. “Say Suzie Q over here is offering $30 per ton for paper, and Billy Bob over here is offering $35,” she said. “I’ll go with Billy Bob.” It is fun, she added, to research and seek out the best markets.
The next piece is education, they agreed. The town needs to educate residents on the new setup and the need for recycling. But it will benefit them in the long run, Cornetta observed, because the increased revenues will make a dent in taxes.
And the staff will recycle the old buildings. The former recycling building will be a drop-off point for construction and demolition debris, and the building where they kept commingled items will be a drop-off for brush and branches.
Those wanting further information may call Fowler at 432-6144 or Cornetta at 432-4650. There is also a Power Point on the town Web site at www.derry.nh.us under the Transfer Station tab, Fowler said.