OSSIPEE — Following a meeting with Ellen Farnum of the Tamworth Recycling Project Nov. 6, Carroll County commissioners said they will be seeking ways to enhance recycling efforts in the region.
Late last year, local towns were grappling with volatility in the recyclables market, but earlier this year, the Tamworth Recycling Project found markets for beverage glass and tin. They also set up a swap shop at the town transfer station where residents could bring in usable items for other residents to take.
Farnum thanked commissioners for their time. "I'm really good at talking trash, but I do ramble a lot," she quipped.
Chairwoman Amanda Bevard (R-Wolfeboro) asked why all of a sudden is there so much volatility.
Farnum said in the past, waste products were shipped to China and other places, but they "no longer want our stuff," she explained, adding that it has become cheaper to make new plastic items than to recycle.
Bevard said she found that last statement to be "mind boggling."
Farnum also said the Tamworth Recycling Project did a survey of towns in Carroll County and described the findings.
"Resources vary greatly from town to town; some town transfer stations have multiple balers and covered space in which to store recyclables, while other towns have minimal equipment and space to process recyclables," according to Farnum.
"All these challenges point to the need for greater communication and regional coordination. The county seems like the logical entity to manage this effort," she pointed out.
Farnum said when her group surveyed towns, it found that many towns have great ideas but don't tend to share them.
Ossipee, said Farnum, has balers and the ability to store recyclable materials for a time when they can get a better price.
"Sometimes ... it's cheaper for them to pay a small fee for recycling paper, for example," said Farnum. "Because they have a baler and can fit a lot in the load, it's cheaper than putting it into the landfill."
Sandwich, she said, rented a shredder this year to dispose of town documents. It only ended up with half a load of paper to dispose of, but if Tamworth had known about it, then perhaps there could have been a mutual benefit.
Commissioner Terry McCarthy (R-Conway) said Conway's transfer station has strict rules about recycling.
"After you get yelled at a couple times, you remember what goes where," said McCarthy, who said she learned egg crates go in with miscellaneous paper and not cardboard.
Farnum said the county could hold periodic roundtable meetings for transfer station staff. The Sun asked if there was an email list for municipal transfer station staffers, but Farnum didn't know of any.
She hoped the commissioners could get all the various towns talking together.
"That seems like a no-brainer," said Commissioner David Babson (R-Ossipee).
"Every town has their own supervisor, and they are all doing their homework over and over again," said Farnum who asked if it wouldn't make more sense to have one person do that research and then share it.
Earlier in the meeting, Babson said perhaps the towns could get a shared container to haul recyclables, and Farnum said that was a "fabulous suggestion."
Babson said the county has the space to host the meeting.
Bevard said a group consisting of a commissioner and people from the various towns could be formed. Babson agreed to serve on such a committee and to attend Tamworth Recycling Project meetings, but he said he could not attend the next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 19, because it conflicts with his work for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
McCarthy said she'd support Babson's helping with the recycling.
"We are going to donate Mr. Babson to your cause," said Bevard.