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Southold Town Yellow Garbage Bags Mandated for All Residents, Carters

Town Board members say that 20-year system is still most effective way to comply with state mandated recycling criteria, though businesses remain exempt from the law.

Though the yellow garbage bag system might not be the most popular amongst Southold Town residents, it is the most cost effective method for the Town to manage solid waste disposal at the longstanding Cutchogue solid waste facility and is the best way the Town has to comply with New York State mandated recycling goals, according to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

Russell and members of the Southold Town Board held a special meeting at Town Hall Thursday night to explain the state mandates and breakdown what actually happens at the solid waste management facility. A slideshow revealed that yellow bags, which can be purchased at the solid waste facility or at select retail stores in town, not only provide the town with $425,000 of its annual $4,154,00 revenue, the yellow bag system has also dramatically increased recycling efforts by residents in Southold Town since its state approval in 1995 (see the full presentation attached to this article).

The Town currently has an annual recycling rate of 31 percent — the highest of any on Long Island, according to a study conducted by the Stony Brook University Waste Reduction and Management Institute.

“And that recycling rate is a direct result of the pay-as-you-throw yellow bag system,” Russell told an audience of about 30 people Thursday night.

But with the option of paying a private carter — and more private carters now trying to do business in town — residents have become more confused by the yellow bag requirement. The Town took legal steps to stop Riverhead-based private carter Go-Green Sanitation from picking up garbage curbside that is not in yellow bags — even thought the carter takes the garbage to Medford, not the town's transfer station.

Go-Green Sanitation was issued violations earlier this year for picking up residential refuse that was not in as is required by the Town. In July, the Town lifted a restraining order and allowed Go-Green to get back to business as usual — but on Nov. 23, all residents will be required to packed up their garbage in yellow bags, and private carters cannot pick up any garbage from their residential customers in Southold Town unless they use the yellow bags, the supervisor said.

Russell acknowledged that the yellow bags are not biodegradable, but that biodegradable bags would not be of the same quality and would “serve no purpose here.”

“Yes, we are adding the bag to the waste stream, but that waste stream has been reduced by using the bag,” Russell said. “We can no longer afford to operate a landfill here — we ship much of our garbage out of town to be incinerated, and the use of the yellow bag forces people to reduce what they throw out.”

Russell, addressing the issue of the cost of each yellow bag, added that residents are not only purchasing a bag from the Town — they are also helping to pay for a system that carts the garbage away.

“I know how it can seem costly, but we’re a community that has proven we can control costs by being diligent about keeping our garbage to a minimum — we have a very Yankee spirit here,” Russell said.

Mattituck resident John Fletcher said he didn’t buy Russell’s argument, saying that the yellow bag system puts too much of a burden on residents instead of businesses and commercial ventures that are currently exempt from the yellow bag law.

“We’re paying at least $3.50 for these bags, that's some big bucks for something as simple as garbage here,” he said. “And it is just garbage, we’re not talking about invading Omaha Beach here — it’s crazy how complicated you’re making it and as a resident, I feel I’m getting screwed. I work at the hospital — why doesn’t a big commercial operation like the hospital have to use yellow bags? Do you know how much they throw out into these huge dumpsters that aren’t even from around here? I have to live with the yellow bag rule — why doesn’t everyone have to?”

Russell said that businesses pay a premium for waste that is brought into the solid waste facility over the scales and that he and board members are working to encourage businesses and larger-scale commercial operations to embrace recycling at the local solid waste facility.

“Reducing and recycling are in everyone’s best interests,” Russell said. “Garbage on Long Island has to be addressed collectively for long-term solutions, but for the time being here locally, the yellow bag system works and there is no other option right now. We have a law and we have to honor it.”

not a farmer November 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM
This "supervisor" and his ridiculous board are telling you this: In spite of the economy and how it has hurt our residents and with no regard for the environment, WE HAVE DECIDED that YOU MUST POLLUTE IN THE FORM OF PUTTING ADDITIONAL PLASTIC IN THE TOWN LAND FILL OR ANY OTHER TOWN'S LANDFILL AND YOU MUST PAY US OUTRAGEOUS TAX (FEES) TO PERFORM THIS FORCED POLLUTION. You may spin it to sound differently if you are in denial. It's just a money grab! Your money. THEY SHOULD BE FIRED. WE ARE THE MOST IGNORANT BACKWARD THINKING GROUP IN THE COUNTRY. WE ARE ALL IDIOTS TO ALLOW THIS ABUSE.
not a farmer November 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
THE RIDICULOUS ARGUMENT OF THE SUPERVISOR ABOVE DEFIES ALL LOGIC. IF "THE TOWN CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO OPERATE THE LANDFILL", THEN CLOSE IT. YOU FAILED AT THE LANDFILL BUSINESS. AS A RESIDENT, I DONT WANT TO PAY FOR YOUR FAILURES ANY LONGER. WE HAVE ALTERNATIVES THAT COST US LESS AND DO NOT POLLUTE OUR TOWN. WHY DO YOU DENY US THE OPTION TO USE THEM. IS THAT YOUR DECISION OR OURS?
BOB PALADIN November 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM
another use and abuse of power here in SHTHLD..instead of reducing land based pollution by mandating 'mulching the grass' to save on landfill and pollution, southold encourages antiquated grass clipping systems and the use of fertilizers and lawn pesticides...lets fill up the land fill with fertilized grass and more Yellow bags.
scott russell November 18, 2012 at 01:04 PM
My comment was addressed to specify that we can no longer operate a landfill because that State of New York mandated the closure as part of the landfill closure law (adopted in 1983). We are operating a transfer station now which requires removal of the garbage collected there. The alternatives you say cost less and do not pollute our town are not permissible under New York State law. Further, the law requires that recycling is mandatory and that fact can't ignored. We are required to enforce that fact under those same laws referenced above.
not a farmer November 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM
AGAIN, MR. RUSSELL, THIS IS A LIE WHEN YOU SAY "The alternatives you say cost less and do not pollute our town are not permissible under New York State law. THERE IS NO LAW IN NYS THAT SAYS MY CARTER (GO GREEN) CAN NOT CONTINUE OPERATING AS HE DOES FOR ME ON MY FREE WILL CHOICE. ITS AN ABSOLUTE LIE! YOU ARE FORCING UNDUE POLLUTION AND EXPENSE ON THE RESIDENTS OF SOUTHOLD. THAT IS THE FACT! UNNECESSARY EXPENSE AND UNNECESSARY PLASTIC IN LANDFILLS. I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU ABANDON THIS DESTRUCTIVE IGNORANT POLICY. YOU ATTEMPT TO PASS THIS POSITION AS A NYS LAW MAKES YOU LOOK VERY DUMB. UNLESS YOU THINK THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHOLD ARE DUMB ENOUGH TO BELIEVE YOU. YOUR FAILED POLICY IS NOT LOGICAL AND REQUIRES CHANGE. ITS OK TO FAIL. ITS NOT OK TO BLAME OTHERS AND NOT FIX YOUR ERRORS. TELL YOUR CRONIES YOU CANT RUN INTERFERRENCE FOR THEM ANY LONGER AND GROW A BACKBONE TO DO THE JOB YOU WERE HIRED FOR. ITS AN EMBARRASSMENT.
scott russell November 18, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I am sorry you feel that way. New York State Law requires that we enforce curbside recycling. All carters must participate in and require curbside separation of all recyclable material. All recyclable material must be kept separate from household waste and be brought to a facility licensed to handle such waste. We took 120 days to explore other options and to discuss the issue with the DEC. There was simply no better option at this time. Further, the DEC was quite adamant that we enforce recycling laws of all carters and customers. I will refer you to the NYS Solid Waste Management Act of 1988. This law requires that Southold be responsible for all waste and recyclable material generated in the town whether or not it is brought to the town's facility. It is online and you should take the time to read it.
not a farmer November 18, 2012 at 07:49 PM
AGAIN, YOU ARE SMOKESCREENING THE YELLOW BAG QUESTION. NYS SAYS NOTHING ABOUT YELLOW BAGS. STOP SPEAKING ABOUT NYS LAW. WE ARE CONCERNED WITH YELLOW BAGS WHICH ARE COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY AND POLLUTING THE LANDFILLS AS THEY LINE YOUR POCKETS. WE DONT WANT TO BUY THEM AS THERE IS NO LOGICAL PURPOSE TO THEM. WHAT DON'T YOU GET! STOP DEFLECTING THE QUESTION. WHY DONT YOU REMOVE THE BURDEN OF BACKWARD THINKING OUTDATED YELLOW BAG TAX. IF YOU HAVE THE BACKBONE TO ADDRESS THE QUESTION DO SO. IF YOU WANT TO HIDE BEHIND A LIE AGAIN, DONT BOTHER. YOU ARE LOOKING PATHETIC ON THIS ISSUE.
not a farmer November 18, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Scott, we are adults. we know to recycle. do you think we need to be punished to do the right thing? the yellow bag does nothing for recycling regardless of any statistics you want to quote to support your sale of them. the residents recycle, not the bags. its a moronic position to say differently. yellow bags polute. You are on the wrong side of both the environmental and economic side of this issue. you can be a leader on this instead of continuing to be a puppet !
joe insider November 18, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Some of my neighbors use that company. One family puts all the trash in the big green can. The other puts out the green can and a separate bags with glass and plastic. The Go Green driver puts it all in the back of his garbage truck. Why does the one family bother to separate the recyclable stuff if it all get thrown out in the same place? Mr. not a farmer- do you really think that they are taking your trash and magically separating it some place? Why don't you ask Mr. Fisher exactly what he does with your trash or, let me guess, you really don't care? For 20 bucks a month you don't want to know, do you?
not a farmer November 18, 2012 at 09:35 PM
joe insider, you are proving your ignorance. there is a regular schedule of pick ups from go green for recycled cardboard and paper as well as plastic, glass and cans. you have no idea what you are talking about. FYI, half the yellow bags picked up are filled with recyclables that lazy people put in there. nobody can stop your dumb neighbor. thats the exact point. The yellow bags do nothing. also, you can tell by the quiet exit of your "supervisor" that he is real dirty on this one. what a joke !
not a farmer November 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM
WHERE DID YOU GO SCOTT RUSSELL?... what happened? you went silent. Your policy is protectionism of the local carters who have been dumping for FREE at the transfer station riding the gravy train 20 yrs while residents foot the bill. They were even mixing garbage from other towns where they have routes (Flanders, Hampton Bays, Wading River, etc) and passing through the "transfer station" NOT in yellow bags and getting away with it. Blatant corruption.
scott russell November 19, 2012 at 04:13 PM
I am sorry. I didn't go anywhere. I simply do not have the time to monitor this site as much as you would like. I gave you answers and you do not accept them. To clarify, yes the state law does not specifically require use of yellow bags. It did, however, require that towns enforce recycling. The town elected to go to a volume based pay as you throw system known as the yellow bag. That was part of our required solid waste management plan that was approved by New York State (1995). The State expects us to enforce that system. I know you do not want the facts to get in way of this discussion, however, based on our recycling rates, the system works. We discussed other options with the DEC and that agency made it clear that we would not be able to simply do away with that management plan. By the way, all carters including yours, are able to take garbage placed in yellow bags and recyclables to the transfer station for free. Where is the protectionism in that? Any carter who was bringing in garbage that was not in yellow bags as you allege would pay a premium to bring it over the scales (cost based on weight). You could have come to the public meeting to discuss this and should feel free to come to any future board meeting to express your thoughts.
not a farmer November 19, 2012 at 04:26 PM
SCOTT RUSSELL, I strongly suggest you go spend some time at the transfer station. its obvious you have never been ther based on your comments. STOP DEFLECTING. Yes the state wants you to enforce "a management plan". THEY DO NOT WANT YOU TO ENFORCE YELLOW BAGS. ITS A TAX. at least come clean and stop the silly lies. THIS IS A FEE YOU AND YOUR BOARD HAVE DECIDED TO IMPOSE ON THE RESIDENTS. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RECYCLING OR WITH NY State. ARE SO WEAK ON THIS THAT YOU CANT OWN THAT FACT? TRY BEING HONEST. YOU WONT LOOK SO RIDICULOUS IF YOU DO.
Donna Hagzan November 21, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I do not believe the yellow bags make people recycle. Why can't we have a seperate pail like Riverhead and Brookhaven Town. It is very difficult to haul garbage to the dump for elderly residents as well as for people who work and cannot get to the dump. The other Towns have garbage pick-up twice a week. We have to get a permit to go to the dump and buy expensive yellow bags to put my white garbage bag in to dispose of it. The yellow bags are not biodegradable so how does that help? It is nothing but another way for the town to make money and has nothing to do with recycling.
JJ November 21, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Folks used to tell me that the Yellow bags were 'fair' because those who used the dump more should pay more. Well Go-Green, my carter, doesn't use your dump AT ALL. So why should I pay for bags that the dump my carter DOES USE, DOESN'T require. It's extortion, plain and simple.How 'bout you cut back on buying farmland rights, and other goodies, instead of pulling tricks like this?
BOB PALADIN November 29, 2012 at 02:48 AM
just another reason why i will probably leave and take my biz to another town on the Island . and we spend a lot here at delis restaurants, wineries at our church , feeding the poor , groceries on love land[ not the kitchen yuck] gas for the trucks etc.. cant get safe roads, cant get the bridge repaired, watch the hgwy dept trip all over themselves picking up useless leaves wasting manpower and equipment,pay yellow bag extortion,.. i would stay and run for a seat but i cant afford a pay cut

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