Mandatory recycling compliance rate estimated at 60% on Laconia's Monday route

LACONIA — When the city's mandatory recycling program began yesterday the truck collecting recyclable materials was full by 11 a.m., three hours earlier than usual, while the Department of Public Works (DPW) ran out of complimentary bins and sold its 700th 64-gallon recycling "toter" before the lunch hour was over.
At the same time, Tyler Smith, who with Kyle Buffom operates the trash collection truck, estimated that about 60-percent of the households and businesses on the Monday route were in compliance with the new rules for curbside collection.
This week, from July 1 to July 6, those who fail to recycle, leave loose or bagged trash at the curb or exceed the maximum number of containers will be issued a bright green ticket explaining the violation and their trash will be collected. However, from Monday, July 8 onward violators will be not only be ticketed but their trash will not be collected.
The Monday trash collection route begins at the Dairy Queen on upper Union Avenue, runs up Weirs Boulevard and White Oaks Road then meanders through The Weirs across the northern part of the city between the Gilford and Meredith town lines. The route includes 1,121 stops, including a large number of seasonal homes. Smith said that he believes a significant share of year-round residents recycle regularly and suspects many seasonal residents were not aware of the new rules.
Yesterday Smith's trash truck worked the route in tandem with the recycling truck driven by Jamie Adams. Whichever truck first reached an address that was out of compliance, issued a ticket. Without keeping count of the violations, Smith estimated that the failure to recycle accounted for most of the violations. "Recycling seems to be the issue," he said. "We're not seeing too many loose bags on this route and we are seeing more people staying within the limits on the number of containers."
Meanwhile, Ann Saltmarsh, who manages the recycling program at the Department of Public Works, said "the office has been inundated with people buying toters and getting bins." Last year the city purchased 1,000 64-gallon wheeled toters, which it offered at the discounted price of $25. Saltmarsh said that more than 700 had been sold, many of them in the past several weeks since the announcement of the mandatory recycling program, by the close of business yesterday.
The DPW has also exhausted its last batch of the 600 18-gallon, gren recycling bins. Saltmarsh said that since the city began distributing bins free of charge in the 1990s residents have taken "literally thousands." She said that another 600 bins are on order and expects them to be available by the end of next week.
In the meantime, Saltmarsh emphasized that recyclable materials can be placed at the curb in any rigid container of the property owner's choice bearing a sticker, available at the DPW, the contents as recyclables.