CHINA: Recycling main topic during transfer station committee meeting

by Mary Grow

Recycling dominated discussion at the China Transfer Station Committee’s May 14 meeting, thanks mostly to committee member James Hsiang’s proposal for a contest to reward people who minimize their trash.

Hsiang suggested the idea at the April 16 committee meeting (see the April 25 issue of The Town Line, p. 3). He presented a plan May 14, proposing contests in which people who sign up deposit their non-recyclable trash in a separate area where it is weighed and the donors of the lightest bags win prizes.

Weighing and judging would be done partly by transfer station staff and partly by volunteers. Depending on which of two options Hsiang presented was used, he estimated costs – mostly staff time – at either $2,415 or $765 per contest. He envisioned four contests a year, each lasting three months.

Committee members were unable to support the plan. Transfer station manager Thomas Maraggio offered the first objection: “We don’t have time to do this.”

Even if enough volunteers could be found, they would need staff supervision, and Maraggio said staff are already overbusy.

There are liability issues involved in using volunteers on town property, Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood added. And, she pointed out, the committee has no authority to spend money.

Committee chairman Chris Baumann said when he brings his trash and recyclables to the transfer station, he wants “to get in and out,” not spend time having his bags weighed, labeled and recorded.

However, the discussion continued with other proposals for encouraging recycling, through, for example, publicizing recyclable items (one committee member had not known before the meeting that books can be recycled); emphasizing how much tax money recycling can save; and inviting school classes to tour the transfer station.

Hapgood promptly envisioned a new column in her monthly China Connected newsletters. She tentatively named it Tom’s Tips.

Maraggio raised a question related to another kind of recycling: what, if any, liability might the town incur as transfer station staff use their loader, on request, to fill residents’ trailers with compost? He mentioned a trailer overloaded – with the owner’s approval – that blew a tire almost as soon as the driver left, and wondered what would happen if the loader operator accidentally damaged a vehicle.

Hapgood said the question needs study. Meanwhile, she recommended China, Palermo and Albion residents taking the free compost use shovels and buckets.

Maraggio said the PaintCare program that lets the transfer station take unneeded paint at no charge has been expanded: staff can now give away unopened cans.

On ongoing issues on the May 14 agenda, committee members, Hapgood and other town staff reported little progress.

Hapgood said negotiations continue with Palermo over the contract between the towns that lets Palermo residents use China’s facility. Earlier this year, she sent the required year’s notice of China’s intention to end the contract, citing rules violations by some Palermo residents.

“Bob and I are talking,” Hapgood said, referring to Robert Kurek, one of Palermo’s two representatives on the committee. Kurek described their discussions: “We’re making some progress; we’ve still got a ways to go.”

Director of Public Services Shawn Reed said he is reviewing three price quotes for a water filter system and talking with people at the state Department of Environmental Protection, which will partly reimburse the expense. The system is intended to filter out PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have contaminated groundwater nation-wide.

Maraggio said the new compost pile pad is waiting on “the cement guy.” New solar lights in the free for the taking building are almost ready.

Two new problems were discussed briefly.

Reed and Maraggio are working on developing a debris site, to meet state Department of Environmental Protection requirements. The site would provide temporary storage in case of major damage to structures, as from a tornado or wildfire. Such a site could have been used after the December 2023 wind- and rainstorm, Reed said.

Hapgood said people who rent Airbnbs in China are coming to the transfer station without the required passes. A solution might be to require dumpsters at short-term rental properties.

Because the second Tuesday in June is primary election day, committee members scheduled their next meeting for 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 18.


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