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Your Thoughts: Southold Reconsiders Yellow Garbage Bag System

Readers weigh in on the possible disposal of the town’s yellow bag requirement.

In Southold Town, the simple act of s becoming more and more of a complicated matter for the average citizen — and for those directly involved in the local industry.

Since 1993, residents of have had to buy special yellow bags from the town in order to throw their garbage away at the in Cutchogue. The law was enacted in order to encourage residents to recycle instead of throw everything away and to comply with state-mandated recycling goals, according to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

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. And the Town has taken legal steps to stop Riverhead-based private carter 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 recently issued violations for picking up residential refuse that was not in as is required by the Town. The town passed a resolution to a 120-day standstill agreement this Tuesday at a regular Town Hall meeting this week, lifting a restraining order and allowing Go-Green to get back to business as usual until a permanent solution can be found.

Ron Fisher of Go-Green expressed frustration to members of the Town Board Tuesday, and several residents of the community also expressed their unhappiness with the yellow bag system.

North Fork Patch readers weighed in as well — some said they are perfectly happy with the yellow bag system, others went so far as to call it “un-American.” Here are a few examples of your thoughts. Feel free to add to the conversation in the comments below or

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“My Garbage will stay on my lawn till it is picked up by Go-Green. As I have stated even if they had a point with Go-Green's policy, why would they not let them do a week of final pick up to avoid the health, animal issues they are now going to have. The pile is getting higher!!!” — John Smith

“Let's change the law to allow garbage collection by businesses such as ‘Go-Green’ to legally sort elsewhere, without the need for purchased yellow plastic bags, as long as the garbage eventually does get sorted. The new law must be reasonable, well understood, and economically fair to all, including commercial businesses. Our community has no right to thwart the development of new business. Disclosure: I buy yellow bags and haul my own garbage and sorted recyclables to the "town dump" and have no desire to utilize a commercial picker-upper.” — Jonathan Baker

“I think [the yellow bag system] is a fine system. It encourages recycling and composting (the less you throw away, the fewer bags you have to buy). Cost is reasonable and the town improved the quality of the bags after complaints that they tore easily." — Katharine Schroeder

“Mr. Russell's statements continue to amaze me - how does the yellow bag policy enforce recycling? You can put recyclables in any color bag Mr. Russell - yellow, pink and even a rainbow colored bag. So he really needs to elaborate on how a colored bag enforces recycling. This policy is the most ridiculous policy ever - I can't even call it outdated because 20 years ago it was dumb. Perhaps the revenue does drive the process but where do our taxes go? They keep going up and up and up yet we continue to pay for every privilage extended to us in this town including getting rid of garbage - I feel pretty confident in saying this town is poorly run - and Mr. Russell is skirting the bigger issue here - as he always does. And I really think he needs a lesson on the role of the elected official - and that role does not dictate what I do with my garbage or how I get rid of it - if I wanted to live like that I would move to China. Not sure when his term is up but even though I am a republican this guy is not getting my vote.” — Jennifer Mercer

“I still don't see how recycleable items can be thrown in with actual garbage, which is the Go-Green way. Seattle WA has a very user-friendly web site as to how to separate your garbage, food and yard (which is turned into compost) and recycles. So you have three receptacles at your house. Not one where all your "stuff" goes. If they separate in Seattle who is the nations model of being green there is NO WAY garbage and recycles can be thrown out together. It just doesn't make sense. Think about it. Or better yet..check out the Seattle web site...” — Jet

“As Go-Green customers, we separate our trash just as everyone else does in Southold who uses a carting service. The town board attempts to maintain this misconception with the smoke and mirrors of NYS requirements. All carters licensed to work in Southold obey state regulations. They have to. The town board is upset that they placed an order last year for a huge number of yellow bags that are not moving as quickly as they would like and it is tying up their money. We told them that these yellow bags, as my students would say, suck big time. They are too thin aka cheap requiring doubling up and the wrong size for any known kitchen garbage receptacle on this earth. I wonder who bags the garbage in Mr. Russell’s home. And the claim that yellow bags inspire separating has no current evidence to support it. If it is repeated often enough, people will believe it as a self-evident truth. And a UFO was spotted landing on Alvah’s Lane last July Fourth!” — Michael Edelson

Eric Russell July 20, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Jennnifer Mercer needs to pay better attention. The theory of the yellow bags and recycling was from the town board of 1993! Read the editorial in this weeks Suffolk Times for a better understanding. Michael Edelson might benefit from it also. When go green first came to Southold you were told you didn't have to recycle if you used them as your carter. The Town of Southold forced that issue. The yellow bag system needs to be replaced for sure but untill then it the law is the law. How about bringing your constructive ideas to the next Town Board meeting. Criticzing This Town Board for something they are compelled to enforce, passed in 1993, doesn't seem to help solve the issue.
Southold town resident July 20, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Eric, Are you related to Scott?
Carrie July 21, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Outdated system which forces people to use other garbage bags inside of the yellow bags, as a few paper plates make the flimsy yellow bags rip. the yellow bags are cheap and encourage double bagging. How is that good for the environment? Promote recycling and allow the yellow bags to become a thing of the past. They were meant to be a temporary solution. This will allow all carters to compete on an equal basis. Do the restaurants or places with dumpsters recycle, many of which are private homes?
Gary M Charters July 21, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Yellow bags are a Town Tax, they really have nothing to do with recycling at all. Everyone that uses the landfill and yellow bags is familiar with the process so there is no need for me to restate it here. I would like the Town Board to conduct a survey/study on what better ways to handle the garbage and the disposal of it. We all know how much money is spent on other studies so let's revisit the yellow bag system, there has to be a better way.
Paula Daniel July 21, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I would like to see a solution that both supports the landfill and allows private companies to pick up trash. Businesses could pay a yearly fee/tax to pick up trash and then these monies would support the landfill.
Ditty51 July 21, 2012 at 11:42 PM
@ southold town resident: yes, eric is scott's twin brother. also -- erin's article states << "Since 1993, residents of Southold Town have had to buy special yellow bags from the town in order to throw their garbage away at the Southold Town Solid Waste Management Station in Cutchogue. ">> that's the gist of the whole go green debacle. they weren't using the cutchogue facility!!!
j July 22, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Kudos to Jennifer Mercer! He does not have my vote, my hubby's, my parents, my brothers, and some of our friends! His term can not be up soon enough.!!
j July 22, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Yeah, I believe he is....
j July 22, 2012 at 12:31 AM
not to my knowledge, never seen a yellow bag in a dumpster yet...
j July 22, 2012 at 12:32 AM
why spend $$$ on a study? It stinks and we all know it. just come up with a better way.
j July 22, 2012 at 12:34 AM
our trash should be picked up for free from what we already pay in taxes. they are out of control in town hall
j July 22, 2012 at 12:36 AM
greed, greed, greed... money makes the world go round........... scott's way or the highway........
joe insider July 22, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Actually, there is more to this then yellow bags. the guy agreed to recycle last year then, as soon as it was costing him money, he stopped and I heard the town was pissed because he was throwing recyclables in with the regular trash. Doesn't anybody notice how he picks up the garbage AND the recyclables and puts them in the same truck? Duh!
joe insider July 22, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Mr. Edelson says there is no evidence to support the claim that yellow bags inspire recycling. I hope the board finds an alternative to yellow bags but let me point out the The Waste Reduction and Management Institute at SUNY Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences studied recycling on Long Island. It concluded that Southold had the highest rycycling rates on the island because of it's volume-based pay as you throw(yellow bag) program. Does Mr Edelson suggest that SUNY Stony Brook does not have the academic pedigree to be taken seriously? Oh Wait. Wasn't Mr. Edelson a professor there for many years?
C July 22, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Solicit bids for refuse pick-up, award to the best value bid, then tax the residents for the pick-up. What's so hard about that, other towns do it including Riverhead and they don't have any problems!
j July 22, 2012 at 07:49 PM
We pay enough taxes, it should already be being picked up for what we pay. town hall is out of control.
forward thinking July 22, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I DID NOT KNOW TOWN HALL GENERATED YOUR GARBAGE - THINK BROOKHAVEN "MOUNTIANS". OR STAT. ISL.... DO WE HAVE THE HUS'PAH TO CREATE A CATALYIC GARB GEN. -- I BELIEVE IN THE THREE PAIL APPROACH WITH THREE TRUCK PU'S.
j July 22, 2012 at 08:57 PM
sorry, didn't mean town hall was generating my garbage. meant they are out of control on spending and tax this, tax that, tax, tax, tax..... town hall is garbage in my book. :)
forward thinking July 22, 2012 at 09:18 PM
OPINION ALWAYS WELCOME AND I DISAGREE - TOWN HALL HAS OPEN MEETINGS AND NO ONE SHOWS SO THEY TRY TO BE MIND READERS AND DO WHAT THEY THINK / OR / WANT... GOOD OR BAD.... WE ARE ALL STOCKHOLDERS AND PAY FOR OUR SHARES YEARLY IF THE SHARE HOLDERS WANT CHANGE THEY LOBBY AND SHOW UP AT BOARD MEETINGS....THE MAJORITY LIKE WHATS UP AND WHAT THEY DO OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SHOW UP. IN MASS. THANK GOD FOR THIS BLOD VENUE AS IT ALLOWS US TO EXPRESS OUR FELINGS BUT DOES NOT ALLOW FOR PHY. ACTIONS ... THE BOARD WORKS AT LEADING
j July 22, 2012 at 09:26 PM
my opinion, don't care who agrees or not. when u show up they do what they want any way so i stopped wasting time. november is coming n soon in time they will b gone, one by one :)
GLENN July 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM
NDAA AND AGENDA 21 COMING TO YOUR TOWN VERY SOON...THEN THE REAL PROBLEM'S BEGING THEY ARE JUST GETTING STARTED....WAIT UNTIL THE SMART METER LIPA IS GOING TO CHARGE YOU FOR PUTTING ON YOUR HOUSE STARTS SHUTTING DOWN YOUR A/C BECAUSE YOUR USING TO MUCH ELECTRICITY........THE KINGS ARE JUST GETTING STARTED! WAKE UP...!
Stephen Friedmann July 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM
The law in Southold requires the purchase of Town of Southold Yellow Garbage bags for the disposal of garbage to encourage recycling and to raise money to pay for the town waste management facility. Joe Insider above tells us that a study conducted by SUNY's Waste Management Institute finds that the yellow bag system results in the highest levels of recycling on Long Island. So the concept works and I commend the town government for its thoughtful solution to a difficult problem. Some citizens do not wish to take the time and devote the energy to recycle. Some citizens consider the recycling mandate to be an intrusion of government in their lives. We live together in a community that elects a government to deal with issues like garbage disposal. This concept of town government is 350 years old here in Southold and it works best when citizens participate. If a citizen doesn't support a particular law he or she can petition the government at town meetings and in forums such as this one, and in the voting booth. Go Green and its customers instead violated the law, benefitting GO Green to the detriment of its competitors, and Go Green has now been granted a reprieve. This undermines the rule of law and the integrity of our government process in Southold. The town lost control of this issue and the unfortunate result will likely be higher costs for garbage disposal, less recycling, and damage to our environment. Stephen Friedmann

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