WATERTOWN — The Development Authority of the North Country is exploring whether to build a large single-stream recycling facility that would serve Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
DANC is paying SCS Engineers of New York, Valley Cottage, $46,000 to conduct a study to determine whether Northern New York would benefit from constructing a Materials Recycling Facility in Harrisville, where it already operates a smaller facility.
The study will determine the cost of the MRF — a facility to which several haulers truck recyclables — and whether the region needs the larger facility, said DANC Executive Director Carl E. Farone Jr.
“At the end of the day, it would review costs and whether that investment should be made and we’d make a decision at that point,” Mr. Farone said.
The first part of analysis, a feasibility study, should be completed in the next few weeks. If the study determines there’s a need, a full engineering report would be done within a couple of months.
DANC now operates a single-stream recycling facility in Harrisville that handles 100% of St. Lawrence County’s recyclables, or about 7,000 tons of the material.
The look at whether the single-stream recycling should be done at the regional level comes at a time when the city of Watertown wants to enter the market. DANC has been talking with Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith and other city officials about DANC handling the city’s recycling.
Two weeks ago, the City Council voted 3-2 to take the first step in implementing a single-stream recycling program. The project is included in the city’s capital program in the 2021-22 budget.
That night, Mr. Farone’s name came up during the debate in which it was said that he thought it was premature for the city to enter the venture. On Tuesday, Mr. Farone clarified that he didn’t know much about the status of Watertown’s plans or how much it would cost.
Opponents of the single-stream recycling program have cited the $1.285 million cost to get it off the ground and said too many questions were left unanswered. Mayor Smith and other supporters think the city should have gone into single-stream recycling a long time ago.
City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said staff is still gathering additional information for council members about the issue. The city needs to review its options as to where its recyclables would be taken.
As of now, the city pays $70 per ton for Jefferson County to take refuse and its recyclables to its landfill.
Watertown is one of the few communities in the state that doesn’t use single-stream recycling. City residents must separate recyclable materials in several bins. Single-stream recycling has been a longtime goal of Mayor Smith, who thinks more people would use single-stream recycling, as they wouldn’t have to use three, four or five bins.
Lewis County takes its recyclables to a recycling facility operated by the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority. But that facility, in Utica, is at capacity and is not accepting more recyclables.
The materials taken to DANC’s recycling facility now end up at a large facility in Liverpool operated by Recycle America, one of North America’s largest solid waste management companies. Fort Drum also uses Recycle America for its recycling.