Borough considers mobile recycling center, could save money

EyeRecycle owner Mike Stallings gives a presenation at the Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday, June 7 at Town Hall. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials are looking into having a mobile recycling redemption center of bottles and cans for residents.

Waterbury native Mike Stallings, who is the owner of EyeRecycle, a bottle redemption center on Chase River Road in Waterbury, is looking to pick up bottles and cans from borough residents and pay them back half of the redeemed amount after he gave a presentation to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday, June 7.

Many plastic and glass bottles as well as aluminum cans can be redeemed for 5 cents each in the state.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said this program would be a no cost project to the borough and has the potential to reduce what the municipality pays to USA Hauling and Recycling.

“It has an opportunity for homeowners to actually make money from their recycling and have it handled by this company,” Hess said during the meeting.

Stallings said he came up with the idea when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state and people weren’t redeeming their cans and bottles.

EyeRecycle employees reached out to many businesses to see what they were doing with their bottles and cans and the first one was the XL Center in Hartford which hosts many concerts. Concert venue workers informed Stallings that they throw away their bottles.

When Stallings did a pick up for them, it came out to $4,000 in redemptions. The amount of bottles and cans from one concert was bigger than the Hall of Burgess Room, Stallings added.

Stallings said a bottle has value outside of being recycled.

“When I use the word recycling and redeem, those are different because that bottle right there, yes it’s recyclable but it’s redeemable as well,” Stallings said.

Stallings said his company plans to begin a pilot program of curbside pickup in Torrington in September and hopeful to do the same thing in Waterbury for October. He is in talks with the city of New Haven as well.

The company is doing a pilot pick up for about 300 Waterbury residents in July according to Stallings.

“Essentially what happens in Connecticut, those cans and bottles are 5 cents and we throw away $25 million a month every year in those bottles and that number is going to double in 2024 to 10 cents. So that’s going to be $50 million every year in the trash because we don’t have the time and it’s not convenient,” Stallings said. “So what EyeRecyle does is make it convenient.”

Stallings said it’s free because people have already paid for it when they purchased the bottle or can.

Torrington presented Stallings with a proposed agreement and some adjustments were made after, according to Stallings.

Hess requested Stallings to bring back a proposed agreement similar to Torrington for the next borough board meeting. There is a legal question that borough officials want to make sure doesn’t affect the borough’s contract with USA Hauling and Recycling, Hess added.

Public Works Superintendent Sandra Lucas-Ribeiro said her only concern was that the borough has “pickers” where they drive around and pick up cans and bottles “So the residents are going to be looking for their 2 cents back and you never got their bag because now you made it very easy for the pickers to go snatch it up,” Lucas-Ribeiro said.

Stallings said that was a concern but the company would do pick up in the day to help alleviate that concern. The redemption service company’s hours would be from 1 to 8 p.m.

Burgess Rocky Vitale asked if the company has contracts with homeowners and how would the payment be completed.

Stallings said his company doesn’t have contracts with homeowners or businesses as well.

Once the company picks up the recyclables, employees count how many and inform the customers of the total amount and send a check.

The program has already been piloted in a few homes in Waterbury and Watertown, according to Stallings.