State encourages Goffstown recycling model
State and local leaders are trying to encourage New Hampshire residents to go green by recycling more, saying it could help save money.
Here in Goffstown, workers every week stop at nearly 5,000 homes to pick up the trash and recycling.
"The biggest thing we do is offer curbside pickup," said Carl
Quira, Director of the Goffstown Public Works
Department. "We found making it the easiest for the residents gives us the best results."
Goffstown is a big player in recycling. Town workers said their attitude is to keep it simple.
"We've gone to single-stream recycling, so everything they recycle goes into one can, and they just put it on the curb next to the trash,"
Everything is taken to the town's Elm Street transfer station.
Residents can take their trash and recycling there themselves, but not having to do that makes the system work, officials said.
"We have a large number of transfer stations in the state, but very few of them offer curbside pickup," said Donald Maurer of the Department of Environmental Services. "And a lot of times, there are towns that are curbside pickup, but with recycling, you have to take the material to a transfer station. So that's a lack of convenience."
Maurer said New Hampshire's recycling habits aren't what he would like them to be.
"We're seeing a combined rate, commercial and residential, of around 32 percent," he said. "We're just under the national rate. But the municipal rates are in the 20s on average."
He said those numbers don't seem to be budging. Convenience, or lack of it, may be one factor in why the state appears to be lagging in the world of recycling.
"Towns where we see single-stream recycling available, where it's very convenient, you don't have to sort it, where you see curbside pickup for recycling, it works well," Maurer said. "These are the towns with the higher recycling rates."
More services could require more funding. But state officials said the more recycling that gets done, the less actually has to be spent.
"It costs a lot of money to throw away garbage in this state," Maurer said. "We're looking at an overall cost of somewhere between $250 million and $300 million a year, and the average homeowner pays probably close to $250 a year in taxes to throw away trash. That's entirely too much money."
Maurer said there's about a $100 difference between throwing away a ton of garbage and recycling it. He said increasing recycling can help communities' bottom lines.
"We estimate just from municipalities that an increase in recycling of 1 percent would result in about $1 million in the pockets of towns," Maurer said.
Maurer said he would like to see more promotion of recycling. Ideally, he said, the state should see a 40 percent recycling rate.
Reproduced by the Goffstown