The four R's: Reduce, reuse, recycle and rake it in

Sustainable Esopus dishes up some recent data from the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency, and concludes that Esopus's dismal recycling rate (18.7 percent, compared to a 40.7 percent recycling rate across the county) is costing it serious taxpayer money.

In 2008 and 2009 combined, Esopus spent, on average, $15.98 per ton of recyclables and $102.89 on municipal solid waste (ie, landfill). In other words, it cost $0.16 cents to recycle for every dollar it cost to landfill waste.

In calendar year 2008 and 2009, the Esopus transfer station ran a $91,000 combined deficit, a loss which is borne by local taxpayers. The cost to landfill waste amounted to 46% of that cost, and the cost of contracting for its operation was 52%.The cost of recycling was just 1.5%.

By our rough back-of-the-envelope calculations, that means the town spent about $42,000 dumping trash over the last two years, above and beyond the cost of running the transfer station. If Esopus recycled at about the same rate that the county overall does, the town could probably have saved over $10,000.

Small comfort: Esopus is still doing better than Rochester, which only recycled 16.7 percent of its waste in 2009.