Frank Palumberi has been in the garbage, refuse and recycling business for 27 years, 26 of those as Wilton-based business New England Carting. He’s seen many changes in the business through the years, but most recently he has watched as the garbage industry has embraced single stream recycling. With that change, all recycling can go in just one single container, and customers no longer need to separate out paper, cardboard, plastics and glass.
“When I started, recycling didn’t even start yet. Back in the 1980s they were doing only newspaper. With the fast pace today, this is the only way to do it. It’s just much easier,” he says.
New England Carting is operator-owned; Frank works the collection routes and his wife, Lisa, answers the phones and handles office operations. He says they’ve tried to always conduct business with an eye toward environmental sustainability. By doing only one run to collect both refuse and recycling at the same time, they help reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption. In 2007, New England Carting was the first local hauler to purchase a clean idle-certified Kenworth truck, which cut down exhaust, and in 2009 they added a second clean idle-certified Kenworth to their fleet.
Now, this next single-stream recycling step is something, he believes, that’s good for everyone–for him as a businessman, for residents and for the environment.
“All the recycling items can go in one container now–the 1-through-7 plastics, all your paper, magazines and cardboard. Before those had to be separated. But the procedure is much more automated now.”
The switch has simplified the procedure and he’s already seen an uptick in how his customers are recycling more.
“People used to shy away from recycling. They had to tie up newspapers, separate things. I noticed at holiday time, recycling would drop–people are busy. Some people didn’t recycle with me at all, because they were just bringing it to the dump. Now it’s easier–you just throw it all in one container, and it gets separated at the plant. My recycling increased over 30 percent in just a month,” he says.
The single stream process is also easier for him. His previous truck had multiple smaller, separated bins along the sides of the truck for different recyclable items. Now, with just the two receptacles at the back–one for recyclable items and one for regular garbage–it simplifies things. For the most part he doesn’t have to run around the truck sorting items into different bins; he can do almost everything right at the back of the truck.
“Oh yes. It saves us time. I can see what people throw out and if I see something that can be recycled I can put it right on the recycling side. Before, if it wasn’t tied up or contained, it might fall out of the [bins] on the side as I drove.”
The change to single-stream recycling did require Frank to buy a new truck. While he didn’t want to share how much his new truck cost, industry stats show that an average new truck costs $170,000 new. They’re typically custom-made to order and take a while to manufacture.
“It took a year to put together. The body took 8-9 months to make,” he says.
He also had to wait until the town was equipped to take recyclables mixed together at the transfer station. Now that the town has given single stream recycling the green light, there will be more carting companies able to offer the service to clients.
One of the things Palumberi wants people to know is what’s not recyclable–plastic bags, like the ones that supermarkets use.
“They get caught on the conveyor belts of the sorting machines at the recycling plant and they clog up the machines. Those things are garbage–reuse them or take them back to the supermarket,” he says.
To find out more about New England Carting, call Frank Palumberi at 203.834.1214 or visit the New England Carting website.