A Statement from Mayor Steve Noble
April 26, 2018
“On behalf of the residents of the City of Kingston, I am deeply concerned about the proposal under consideration by the Ulster County Resource and Recovery Agency (UCRRA) to discontinue the acceptance of Single Stream Recycling on December 31st.
“UCRRA’s mission is quite clear. It was designed to “…protect public health and the environment and to promote sustainable materials management practices in Ulster County by efficiently managing solid waste materials with a focus on resource conservation.’ The proposal currently before the agency is in direct conflict with this mission and in fact fails to ‘promote sustainable management practices.’ Further, the agency’s vision, which in part states that, ‘…Resource recovery is achieved through a variety of methods including community outreach and education, waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting. The Agency continuously explores the viability of new and/or different practices and emerging technologies for reducing waste and managing discarded materials…’ will be undermined through the adoption of this proposal. The introduction of single-stream recycling was the epitome of implementing an emerging technology to reduce waste. The City of Kingston is a leader in sustainability and has invested heavily in the movement towards single stream recycling, with the purchase of specialized trucks to facilitate the collection of recycled materials, the purchase of recycling totes that have been distributed throughout the city, and the investment of staff time dedicated to recycling education and outreach. In all of these areas, we have done our job. Since 2011, the City has seen a 14.7% decrease in refuse and a 30.7% increase in recycling. If and when the recycling collected did not meet the standards set forth by UCRRA, the City absorbed the costs of that contaminated load and dedicated staff resources towards community education and compliance, checking recycling bins and fining property owners, when necessary.
“Prior to the establishment of ‘flow control’ in 2013, the City of Kingston held an independent contract with UCRRA. In an amendment to that contract, executed in June 2011, it reads, “…WHEREAS, the Agency supports the City’s efforts to increase recycling through single stream recycling and agrees to amend the Agreement…” The City no longer has an independent contract with the Agency, but I expect that our partners in the Ulster County Legislature will agree that the intent has been to support the continuation and expansion of single stream recycling.
“The impact of the Agency’s decision will be detrimental to our community. The City includes two Environmental Justice Areas who are disproportionately exposed to or at-risk of exposure to negative environmental conditions. The Agency must reflect on its mission and commitment to our community and instead of scaling back its services, it should be supporting single stream recycling, developing new methods to protect public health and advancing sustainable practices.
“In addition to the proposal eliminating the acceptance of single stream recycling collection, UCRRA has announced a proposal to double our collection fees mid-year. This sudden change does not allow the City enough time to review the financial impact of this revised fee and is not accounted for in the City’s adopted 2018 budget.
“I will be attending the Ulster County Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee meeting on May 3rd at the Ulster County Resource and Recovery Agency. In addition, I will be attending the public hearing scheduled by UCRRA for May 23rd. However, based on the significance of this proposal and the high likelihood that if passed, Kingston would be disproportionally impacted, I respectfully request the following:
- The Ulster County Resource and Recovery Agency postpone its vote on the proposal for a minimum of 60 days to allow the Agency time to review the consequences of ending the acceptance of single stream recycling on December 31st.
- The Agency hold a second public hearing in Kingston to allow the public and all officials additional time to review the proposal and to understand how it would impact our community
- The Ulster County Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee review the proposal and offer comment on this proposal’s projected impact on the County’s environment
- The Agency research regional collection sites for single stream recycling and provide a report to the public on its findings
- The Agency postpone its vote on the proposed fee increases and not consider a fee increase to go into effect until January 1, 2019 to allow participating municipalities time to budget appropriately or consider alternative options
“The City of Kingston and Ulster County have both worked to become the ‘greenest’ and most environmental city and county in New York State. UCRRA is a valued partner in this work and I urge its members to remember why the Agency exists and who it serves.
“Finally, I urge community members and elected officials to join me at the public hearing on May 23rd and to share their concerns.”