In acknowledgement of Earth Day this week, Thursday, April 22, and World Environment Day, celebrated on Saturday, June 5, The Scarsdale Inquirer will highlight the different waste and recycling streams of the village of Scarsdale in upcoming editions. The series will spotlight a different type of waste being handled locally, tracking its disposal journey from start to finish.
The majority of municipalities in Westchester County dispose of their waste and recycling via the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities’ (DEF) waste system, which is a part of Regional Refuse Disposal District 1 (RRDD#1). Of the 48 municipalities that make up Westchester County, 36 of the county’s communities which represent approximately 90% of the county’s population partake in the services provided by the Westchester County DEF, which is the county division that handles waste disposal. Scarsdale is one of those 36 communities.
Paid for by county taxes, services available to Scarsdale residents through the county government include nonrecyclable trash pick-up; collection of plastics in categories 1 through 7, as well as cartons, aluminum and glass for recycling; collection of paper for recycling; and as recently as August 2020, collection of food waste for composting. While electronic waste, or “e-waste,” is also handled by the county, it is not picked up from citizens’ homes. Rather e-waste is disposed of by the county after being collected from local designated drop-off sites. Residents also have the option of scheduling an e-waste pickup for a nominal fee.
Scarsdale residents pay federal, county and village taxes, which go to different services handled by different entities. Village taxes go toward local municipal services and county taxes go toward county services, which include maintenance of county parks, county roads, recycling programs, wastewater disposal and the subsidization of trash disposal.
While recycling is “free” for Westchester County residents because the county is able to sell its recycled materials for profit and thus does not charge the village directly for the collection and disposal of recyclable materials, the county does charge its municipalities for trash disposal.
The village of Scarsdale pays Westchester County roughly $29/ton for the disposal of its nonrecyclable trash. The true cost of trash disposal, however, is more than $90/ton, which the Westchester County DEF pays to City Carting & Recycling, a company that collects residential and commercial garbage.
“The county doesn’t charge the village for recycling so that’s an incentive for the village to try and get residents to recycle as much as possible,” Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) chair Michelle Sterling told the Inquirer. Sterling explained that because the village pays for trash disposal, which is already subsidized via county taxes paid by residents, the less nonrecyclable trash generated, the less residents will have to pay.
Recycling services not offered by Westchester County, but offered by Scarsdale Village to its residents, currently include the recycling of plastic bags and plastic film, textiles, cooking oil, bulk metal, furniture, batteries and tennis balls. All of these recycling options are available free of charge to the public as a result of partnerships organized between the village of Scarsdale and various recycling companies. In fact, the village makes a small profit selling these materials to third parties, and it saves money by recycling the materials instead of paying to have them disposed of as nonrecyclable trash.
All of the above materials can be recycled if taken to the Scarsdale Sanitation Center at 110 Secor Road, with the exception of batteries, which are collected at Scarsdale elementary and middle schools, though not at Scarsdale High School. Tennis balls are also collected in bins by the entrances of the 26 Scarsdale tennis court locations operated by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation.
Upcoming recycling options being organized by the CAC in cooperation with the village are the addition of cork, eyeglasses and book recycling programs.