McKeown sisters at Beaver Dam Creek and South Country road

Brookhaven & South Haven Hamlets

Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, New York

Brookhaven/South Haven Hamlets Study

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We list here some of the measures not included in the Town’s SWMP, that have been repeatedly proposed by taxpayers and citizens groups, and that have been successfully implemented in other nearby towns, and should be called for under New York State’s mandated hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle as a guiding principal of municipal waste management:

a. A Don’t Bag It Program. "Don’t Bag It", or "Just Mow It" programs eliminate trash because grass clippings are not collected. Rather, they require homeowners to leave the grass clippings on their lawns or, if they are collected, to compost them at home. In neighboring Islip Town, four million dollars are saved each year by this program; in Smithtown their program saves about $600,000. Brookhaven Town has recently adopted such a program, on a voluntary basis. The Town has announced plans to make the program mandatory within a year. We applaud this effort, and strongly urge the Town government to continue to support this program.

b. Home Composting. Home composting is an acceptable way to get rid of kitchen sink wastes, leaves, weeds and grass clippings. Monies are available in State grants to institute composting programs but the Town has not organized them.

c. Pay-by-Weight Program. Pay-by-weight programs clearly reduce the amount of trash put out for public collection. Southold, Shelter Island and Southampton Towns all have adopted pay-by-weight programs. Estimates by the Southampton Town Supervisor suggest that pay-by-weight programs can reduce the amount of garbage by about 40%. The Hamlet of Brookhaven has repeatedly asked the Town to use its community to plan a pilot program of this type, but the Town has refused.

d. Commercial Source Separation Program. The Town has failed to initiate a Town-wide commercial recycling program similar to the red can, curbside source separation program set up in residential areas. Curiously, such a program would not only increase recycling and be consistent with the State priorities, but it would also implement a January 1, 1989, Town law (Chapter 46, Sec. 1-20), which requires that all commercial, industrial, and institutional establishments source separate their waste.

e. Encourage More Recycling. Currently, the Town of Brookhaven is in the process of entering into an agreement with ah outside contractor (Star Recycling, of Brooklyn, N.Y.) to construct and operate a mixed-waste recycling facility at the Town landfill site. Rather than abdicate its recycling responsibility in favor of a commercial facility that profits from increased waste, the Town should adopt an aggressive recycling program that involves its citizens in the kind of activities listed above: A program that makes more effective use of Brookhaven’s Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) through source-separation by households, businesses, and institutions; a program in which an involved citizenry is properly informed about the costs of waste management – informed that costs of the MRF, where the source-separated recyclables go, are about $58/ton, while the cost of incineration at Hempstead amounts to about $120/ton, and a Don’t-Bag-It program costs less than $10/ton. A waste-management program that truly encourages recycling at the source would save the Town money, reduce the amount of waste, and thereby reduce the need for energy-intensive mixed-waste recycling facilities that mine our garbage, at great cost, for stuff that shouldn’t have been put there in the first place.