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CHEEKTOWAGA SUCCESS STORY
TOWN'S RETURN TO RECYCLING PROGRAM PAYS ENVIRONMENTAL AND FINANCIAL DIVIDENDS

The Town of Cheektowaga deserves some praise for its recycling efforts. The town has saved thousands of dollars in disposal costs since returning to recycling earlier this year. In addition, it has collected more than $30,000 for the cans and bottles in its blue bins. Just goes to show you what can be accomplished with cooperation and innovation.

Key to the town's success has been the privatization of its recycling service. The town hired BFI Waste Systems to pick up recyclables April 1. This was after the town had suspended its recyling program more than a year earlier because it was too expensive.

The union, which said it could have done recycling for less than what the town is paying BFI, agreed to accept the privatization of the recyling efforts, and concessions on health insurance benefits, in return for salary increases of 2.25 percent in fiscal year 2003, 2.5 percent in 2004 and 2.75 in 2005-06.

How successful has the renewed recycling program been? The numbers tell the story.

In 2002, when Cheektowaga last ran the recycling program, town workers picked up 5,833 tons of recyclables. From April through September, BFI collected 3,029 tons of recyclables. But the town is not paying the $23 per ton it had been, which amounted to $69,667. Instead, it is receiving $10 a ton and was paid $30,295 for the first six months of recycling. Had the garbage collector picked up those recyclables, the town would have paid an extra $123,098 in tipping fees for the garbage to go to American Ref-Fuel's waste-to-energy plant in Niagara Falls.

In addition, the cost of running the operation has decreased. The $816,480 contract with BFI is cheaper than what the town used to pay its workers. And as people get used to recycling again, there likely will be more savings. According to town officials, if the current pace continues, 6,058 tons would be collected in a year, which is 3 percent more than the town collected the last year it recycled.

This page criticized Supervisor Dennis Gabryszak for taking the recycling program out of the town budget a couple of years ago. Now we are more than happy to give him and the Town Board a pat on the back for not only returning to recycling, but proving that it can be run to the town's financial benefit.

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