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October 24, 2016
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Sullivan farmers and newsprint; One person’s waste may be an animal’s bedding

Free news print for farmers was a topic for discussion at the government center on January 17.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

Gieger said, “Because of the economic spinoff from our local dairy farmers, I’m advocating an agricultural exemption so they can have paper, for which they’ve already purchased the equipment. And they’ve probably been getting the paper since the 1990s.”

At the request of a couple of legislators, McAndrew said he could track the amount of newsprint that is leaving the transfer stations to get a more precise figure for how much is involved.

A question of compostables

In a separate discussion, Cutler gave a presentation about compostable materials in the county waste stream.

Cutler said the easy-to-recycle materials, such as newspaper, corrugated cardboard and plastic containers, are starting to level out across the country in terms of the private sector’s ability to reclaim it. However, he said, “The difficult to recycle and recover in the waste stream, I call it my dirty diaper example, is an untapped resource and the compostable materials of which those dirty diapers actually make up a little percentage represents an untapped percentage of the waste stream that we don’t collect for recycling.”

Along with dirty diapers, compostable materials include food waste, leaves, grass clippings and other organic material. Those kinds of materials make up about 30% of the waste stream and, at some unspecified point in the future, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is going to want the county to address removing at least some of those materials from the waste stream.

Cutler said that the county waste system collected and exported 57,000 tons of waste last year, and 300,000 gallons of fuel were used to truck that waste to the landfill in Seneca Meadows. If all 17,000 tons of compostable material could be removed from the waste stream, 89,000 gallons of fuel could be saved.

McAndrew noted that that would require 100% participation from county residents and businesses, and that certainly won’t happen. But whether making greater use of backyard composting setups or by employing more elaborate technology, eventually the county is going to have to come up with a plan.