NAUGATUCK — Going green is saving Naugatuck a different kind of green — cash, that is.
It has been a full year since every borough house received two 96-gallon carts for trash and recycling, and the borough is pleased with the savings, so far.
Last year, Naugatuck collected 2,056 tons of recycling, up from 1,872 tons in 2012 and up significantly from 1,349 tons in 2009, a year before roughly half of Naugatuck homes received the large trash and recycling bins. Previously, Naugatuck residents used their own trash bins and had small blue recycling bins about a quarter the size of the current barrels.
Sheila Baummer, Naugatuck’s recycling and solid waste coordinator, said the increased recycling is saving the borough big bucks. The five-year average from 2006 to 2010 for solid waste collection was 9,458 tons. Currently, Naugatuck pays $63 a ton in tipping fees to get rid of trash, so the previous five-year average would cost the borough $595,874, based on the current tipping fee. However, Naugatuck collected far less garbage than the average — 8,061 tons last year — so it cost Naugatuck $507,890 in tipping fees, a savings of $87,984.
The borough also receives a recycling rebate of $16.50 per ton of recycled goods, which netted $33,927 in 2013.
“When we presented this plan to the Board of Finance years ago, we said we’d see big savings in tipping fees, and so far, it’s proving to be accurate,” Baummer said.
There are several reasons why people are recycling more, she said. First, there is simply more room to recycle in the big bins. Plus, the borough educated people about what can be recycled when they sent out the new bins. And more materials, such as cereal boxes and yogurt tubs, are now able to be recycled, whereas they were not in the past.
Baummer said residents have told her they never realized how much they could recycle until they received larger bins. And, she said, about 50 residents have requested an additional recycling bin because they have so much recycling.
The borough purchased three automated trucks — which pick up the large carts with a robotic arm — for about $300,000 apiece. The carts cost the borough about $389,000. Naugatuck bonded money for the project, and some of the cost was offset by grant money and money that Naugatuck received from a class-action lawsuit settlement with Connecticut Resources Recovery Agency, which dozens of municipalities sued over tipping fees.