Alvord explains Norwalk schools recycling ‘test’

Brookside Elementary School
Recycling containers sit behind Brookside Elementary School, which has had a recycling program run by students for years.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk schools have two months to prove they’re serious about recycling.

If, after two months of effort, Norwalk school personnel come up with proof that there’s been a serious switch to recycling in the 19 school buildings, a move will be made to make the effort permanent and bring additional revenue to the school system, Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord said.

The Mayor’s Energy and Environment Task Force has organized a pilot program to try recycling in the schools, said Councilman John Kydes (D-District C), the task force chairman. Alvord explained Thursday that a City Carting truck will pick up recycling materials at the schools during the first full week of the school year, which begins Sept. 8. Then the schools will go back to their usual methods of waste and recycling pickup for two months, while administrators attempt to convince everyone to recycle. After the two months, a City Carting truck will return for a week and pick up the recycling materials again so city officials can see if it collects enough material to make it worth continuing the effort.

Alvord said the Board of Education has a contract with City Carting for garbage pickup, separate from the contract the city has with City Carting, but the recycling is currently picked up through the city’s contract. If the pilot program shows that the schools can get organized to the point of making recycling remunerative, the BoE will negotiate its own contract with City Carting, Alvord said.

“If the schools really have taken this seriously and increased their separation, then, at that point, we’ll say, ‘OK, we need to modify both contracts somehow,’” Alvord said. “So the schools are interested in getting some of the revenue from the recyclables. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that, but right now all of the recycling is done under the city’s contract. Actually, last year we took a truck and dedicated a truck for a week and what we got from all of the schools was less than a ton.”

A ton of recycling materials sells for $17.50, Alvord said. The total take from a week’s worth of pickups last year was $16, Alvord said. Hard to divide that between 19 schools, he said.

“My point is if we want to do this seriously and get some money from it, then let’s spend some money on separation,” Alvord said. “We’ll provide whatever containers they need to do it.”

A Brien McMahon High School senior has asked for 20 blue bins and toters, he said. Those will be provided.

There was a meeting last week in Deputy Superintendent Tony Daddona’s office to discuss recycling, attended by Mayor Harry Rilling, Mickey Ferro and Gary Fanali of City Carting, BoE Buildings Coordinator George Giannitti and Daddona, Alvord said. On Wednesday, Giannitti made a presentation to school principals and assistant principals Alvord said he missed the meeting because of a miscommunication, so he couldn’t say how effective the presentation was or describe the response.

“There’s a general belief that we could separate a lot more at the schools, so our waste program managers over the last few years have worked closely with George Gianitti,” Alvord said. “… They have spent a fair amount of time going from school to school to school trying to help them set up programs. They sort of start and kind of taper off.”

Three schools have been consistently diligent with recycling, he said. The three are Brookside, Rowayton and Wolfpit elementary schools.

“The plan is let’s figure out a way to get the recycling up at the schools and separate as much as we can at the schools,” he said. “The meeting last week was how are we going to figure out how to do all of this? We’ve got contracts and all of this stuff … We’re going to do this test and see what happens.”


10 responses to “Alvord explains Norwalk schools recycling ‘test’”

  1. Scott

    It sounds like the problem is being made a lot more complicated than it needs be. Why does public works have any involvemen in who or how recycling is done at our schools. The only function DPW performs at the schools anymore is snow removal. We used to do a lot more but we started charging the BOE . Does DPW pay for their dumpsters now? I’d venture a guess at no.

  2. Don’t Panic

    The reason to recycle is not so we can make a profit. We should be doing it because it is the right thing to do in the long run. In schools, it is part of educating our students and building a habit of good, responsible civic behavior while they are young.
    How about making recycling separation part of the evaluation criteria for janitors, teachers and administrators? If the city and the BOE are concerned about motivating behavior of PEOPLE who are in the best position to act, then a 19th share of a couple of hundred dollars for their school is not the right lever.

  3. Don’t Panic

    Check out this manual for designing good recycling programs in schools: http://infohouse.p2ric.org/ref/41/40956.pdf
    Nowhere does it recommend a pass/fail test as the way to succeed. The case studies enumerated in this show tonnage in the THOUSANDS for school systems less than half our size (7 or 8 vs 19).

  4. One and Done

    One truck used to pick up all our trash. Now two do and it all ends up in the same place anyway. What a scam. Incinerators that burn trash and convert to electricity are the answer, but the trash business isn’t going to give up their gravy train and they have paid off politicians of all stripes to continue the scam.

  5. Suzanne

    Most kids, I would expect, already know how to recycle because their family and/or parents do: isn’t that what the blue bins are for in all of Norwalk citizens’ driveways?
    Mr. Alvord keeps referring to “separation” – won’t the schools be participating in through recycling just like the rest of the population?
    Why would this be an experiment? Where does school garbage go now? How is it paid for? And where, again, does it end up? It is kind of hard to believe that recycling hasn’t been a requirement for years and not just a civic duty in our schools (although doing the right thing usually makes people feel better.)
    Environmentally, nothing else makes any sense. Kids aren’t stupid – they will know what the system is if taught and, especially, if the benefits explained – and it can’t just be about money. Then again, the teachers are very smart about motivation and their kids too.
    I agree. Don’t make it so complicated.

  6. Casey Smith

    Scott – The article clearly states that at the current time, the City has the recycling contract, not the District. And unless the schools consistently recycle, it isn’t going to be worth the time and the gas to pick up $16 dollars worth of recycling. If the schools actually participate, they’ll have their own contract and maybe earn some money. But the bottom line is that it is up to the schools to recycle.

  7. Suzanne

    Yay, Don’t Panic! An excellent link and proof that the wheel does not need to be re-invented.

  8. Scott

    BOE can negotiate directly with who ever they choose through the bid process to collect their recycling. Before City Carting was awarded the curb side collection contract DPW did not pick up the school’s garbage. As far as I know school collection was not part of the RGP for solid waste collection. So again I ask what Mr. Alvord and the Department of Public Works has to do with BOE operations?

  9. Scott

    RFP not RGP. Auto correct or momentary lapse maybe

  10. peter parker

    DPW and Alvord should stay out of our schools, we don’t need his patented brand of incompetence interfering with our children’s schools. This man destroys and spoils everything he touches. He is only looking for an excuse to grow his budget.

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