Town of Ulster considering what to do with single-stream recycling

Ulster town officials are discussing how they would handle the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s proposed departure from accepting single-stream recycling from municipalities, with a handful of different options on the table.

The town switched to single-stream recycling for its residents two years ago, a move that allows users to bring all their recyclables to the town’s transfer station in a single container. According to Town Supervisor James Quigley III, the town moves around 200 tons of single-stream recycling a year to the UCRRA at a cost of $20 per ton. The agency, which doesn’t have the means to separate recyclables itself, sends the material elsewhere to be processed.

UCRRA officials have already approved doubling the cost of accepting single stream recyclables to $40 on July 1, but Quigley said concerns about the cost rising to as much as $75 per ton before discontinuing single-stream recycling altogether at the beginning of 2019 could require local residents to go back to separating their recyclables.


The UCRRA currently charges the town $103 per ton for disposing non-recyclable trash, and would likely accept separated recyclables for nothing because it allows them to sell the materials on to buyers who then recycle the glass, paper or metal. Single-stream recycling too often has contaminants in it; it’s therefore more difficult to find a buyer.

Town Highway Superintendent Frank Petramale said his department is looking into other options that might allow single-stream recycling to continue, but it could prove too costly to work.

“There’s an outfit in Beacon that will accept our single-stream,” he said. “And I just heard back from an outfit in Albany that they’d be more than happy to accept our single-stream for $65 a ton. Two years ago we paid zero to get rid of it.”

Instead, Petramale said, the town may have to scrap single-stream and go back to asking residents to separate their recycling before visiting the transfer station. He added that any such decision would have enough lead time for residents to plan accordingly.

“If that does happen, I’ve already got flyers made up and ready to go so we can give hopefully like a month-and-a-half notice to the residents that do come up to the transfer station,” he said. “Right now it’s very convenient. They put everything in their blue bin, they dump it and they go. One thing it’s going to do is it’s going to take longer for you to be at the transfer station, and it’ll probably back up sometimes during the busiest hours. But we want to let you guys know that we’re doing everything possible to make the right decision for what’s best for the town, whether it’s hauling it out to another recycling facility that will accept it, whether it’s Beacon or Saugerties or Albany. We’ll have more information as it comes up.”

Petramale said he planned on attending a UCRRA public hearing on the matter scheduled for Wednesday, May 23 at 5 p.m. in county legislative chambers at the County Office Building on Fair Street in Uptown Kingston. 

Paving plans

In other highway department news, the end of a long winter means the start of paving, with Petramale’s crew starting with areas affected by 17 water breaks during the cold weather. The town has published a list of more than 20 other roads expected to see some paving over the next few months. That list is available on the town’s website.

Petramale also shared the news that the Town was being reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damage caused by Stella, a hurricane-force winter storm that hit the Hudson Valley in March 2017. The total reimbursed comes to over $62,000.

“They cover all the overtime, all the equipment, all the materials, damage,” said Petramale. “We have to have one of the trucks towed out, they covered that cost. We knew we were getting the $53,000, but the state picked up an additional 12 and a half percent.”

Petramale credited highway department secretary Paula Perpetua for her role in securing the funds.

“Filling our FEMA paperwork is a nightmare,” Petramale said. “If you fill out one thing wrong they send it back to you.”

Petramale added that the arrival of spring has brought with it an even greater amount of pep in the step of his crew than before.

“Everyone’s working hard, staying healthy,” he said. “Morale is up now the sun is out and it’s a little warmer. The guys are truly working together and the results show.”