Sullivan County: cache for trash

Running down a rumor about who's making the mess

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 7/14/21

SULLIVAN COUNTY — So, could it be that the reason there’s an uptick in roadside trash is that getting rid of bulk trash in the city is difficult and more expensive? Are people bringing it here and abandoning it on Sullivan’s roadsides?

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Sullivan County: cache for trash

Running down a rumor about who's making the mess

Posted

SULLIVAN COUNTY — So, could it be that the reason there’s an uptick in roadside trash is that getting rid of bulk trash in the city is difficult and more expensive? Are people bringing it here and abandoning it on Sullivan’s roadsides?

For sure, there’s feral trash. Legislators are apparently getting an earful from their constituents; trash has come up at several meetings. There’s no indication of where the trash originated. It’s just that there’s a lot of it, and many cleanups have been held to try to get rid of it.

“I’ve seen an increase in roadside litter,” said Bill Cutler, recycling coordinator for the county. But it’s not likely to be city people hauling their mattresses to the county. “It would cost a lot to dump illegally here,” he said. Besides, “there’s definitely a component of year-round folks.”

The county’s solid waste department takes illegal dumping seriously. “If you dump, you’re breaking the law. It puts health at risk,” he said.

Fines can run into the thousands of dollars.

Part of the increase probably is summer residents, but this isn’t something nefarious, just that “they may not know what the solid waste rules are here.”

One major advantage of the new residents, Cutler says: they’re experienced recyclers. “The increase in newcomers has created an increase in recycling. Many, many people are brand new customers” at the county’s recycling centers.

As Cutler said, there’s a significant local component. Sometimes the piles of trash are due to local contractors. Maybe they’re trying to avoid tipping fees? But, again, fines.

Getting a handle on illegal dumping is important, and not just for health reasons. Like the proverbial broken window, “it attracts more [trash],” Cutler said. “People tend to downplay illegal dumping” but it’s “an offense against our quality of life.”

So the county, towns and local groups have gotten to work. There have been litter cleanups and trash cans placed prominently. There are six county transfer stations; every day, one of those facilities is open. The “don’t-dump” message has been reinforced.

What else would help? If you’re a contractor with a pickup, please “manage the stuff on your truck,” he said. Tie your debris down securely. Some of that roadside trash is just things flying out of a pickup bed, and not only does it create more trash but “it’s [also] potentially lethal at highway speeds.”

What if you’re cleaning out a house? Sometimes a relative can leave an intimidatingly huge collection of stuff to be disposed of. Don’t be afraid to call. “We’ll work one-on-one with people who have problems,” Cutler said.

And finally, the most important point: “The avoidance of waste is huge,” Cutler said.

Compost everything you can. Keep trash in mind as you shop; consider what would create less waste.

“There’s a lot of things that we can self-empower... we lose sight of the fact that we’re responsible for the waste we generate,” Cutler said. ”The responsibility’s across the board, everyone’s responsible. It’s so important to produce less waste.” No matter where you live.

What to do?

If you see a big pile of debris, call your town supervisor or the county at the link below.

And here’s what you need to know about solid waste in Sullivan County. Got a question? They have answers. You’ll find recycling tips and solid waste rules at www.sullivanny.us/Departments/SolidWasteRecycling.

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