‘If it’s not curbside, I’m going to throw it in the garbage’: Speakers express dissatisfaction with proposed drop-off recycling sites

Mary Ann Klein

Mary Ann Klein, president of the League of Women Voters, speaks to aldermen during Monday night's Quincy City Council meeting. | David Adam

QUINCY — Six people spoke to the Quincy City Council during the public forum portion of Monday night’s meeting to express their dissatisfaction about the possibility of the discontinuance of curbside recycling pickup in the city.

Mary Ann Klein, president of the League of Women Voters, was one of the people who spoke. She hopes the public will get another chance to an opinion before aldermen potentially vote on the ordinance in two weeks.

“What we were trying to say is that we don’t think they have given the public enough opportunity,” Klein said after the meeting.

Alderman got their first reading of a proposed ordinance that calls for collection locations for recycling bins will be placed at yet-to-be determined locations on the north, south and east sides of the city. As many as six bins could be at one site. The bins could be available as early as March 1, 2023.

The only other opportunity the public has had to speak with city officials about the future of recycling was during a July 6 public forum that drew about 50 citizens to the Community Room of the Quincy Town Center.

“If you really are committed to bringing and maintaining curbside recycling in Quincy, you will find a way to do it,” Maureen Magliocco said to aldermen. “I heard this suggestion of (collecting recycling) every other week. I think that would be fine. Other towns have found a way to do it. Surely Quincy has enough smart people and administrators that we can do what they do.”

Kevin Krummel, who also spoke to the aldermen, questioned if the city is properly managing its recycling program. Jeffrey Conte, director of public works, told aldermen the city receives “about $40,000 to $50,000” from the sale of recycled plastic and paper.

“Recycled cardboard, recycled paper, recycled plastics, they’re all going up in value. Always,” he said after the meeting. “It’s easier to process a recycled pound of plastic and paper, and it costs less to process recycled plastics than it is to have virgin. Virgin resin costs higher than recycled resin, and virgin paper and pulp costs more than recycled resin.

“What I’m asking the city is: How are you managing your information?”

Conte told aldermen the amount of recycling collected in the first year was cut in half after the city started charging $5 monthly for curbside recycling. He believes the amount of recycling will increase by 20 to 50 percent once citizens are allowed to take recyclable materials to drop-off sites at no cost.

He also said the city has reached out to local private haulers to find at least one that would be interested in providing curbside recycling to the citizens who don’t want to or can’t haul their recycling to the city bins. So far, only Steinkamp Hauling has expressed an interest.

“(Recycling) has been discussed for some time, but I guess there probably never is enough discussion,” Conte said after hearing the concerns during the meeting. “I understand people feel they only have a limited opportunity to voice their opinions.

“We also understand there are people out there who would have difficulty making it to the public collection sites and that the curbside recycling is for them. We don’t discount that, and that is why we sought someone else to provide that service. We think that if we have a private hauler to provide curbside pickups, we can have the collection bins for those who don’t want to pay a fee to recycle. That, in the end, is going to be the more productive way.”

Klein wasn’t convinced.

“One thing that really concerned me was when Conte said, ‘We’re going to have separate bins (at each drop-off site) for paper and plastic and cardboard,” she said. “Can you imagine people coming out and separating their own stuff?

“When Conte said he thought the amount of recycling would increase, well, I don’t know if that’s the case. I was talking to somebody who said, ‘If it’s not curbside, I’m going to throw it in the garbage.’ People have said to me, ‘I won’t bother to go to the sites. I’ll simply put it in the garbage.’”

Quincy Mayor Mike Troup said his schedule is full this week, but he hopes to schedule another public forum about recycling before the third reading of the ordinance on Sept. 12.

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