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Village of Potsdam resident voices displeasure with Casella

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POTSDAM - The general manager of Casella Waste Services says changes in the collection system in recent months have resulted in a 5 percent increase in recycling rates, but one village resident said he is not impressed with the new system.

Demilt Aitken told the Potsdam Village Board Monday, as well as Casella Waste Services General Manager Chester W. “Skip” Bisnett, that he is fed up with the company’s practices.

“The issue I have with garbage bags in this area is incredible,” Mr. Aitken said. “I moved from Westchester County, and we just had people collecting garbage on the curb side and bags would be put out there and we had no problems. The minute I came up here I was introduced to having to have large, clear bags - plus you had to put stamps on them.”

Mr. Aitken said he did not have any issues with that system, but Casella eliminated the sticker systems last year.

Casella first proposed the change to branded garbage bags in March 2013 and bags were available a few days later. More changes are on the horizon for village trash haulers.

“The new bags will not be pleated. They are ordered. They are slightly heavier than the last bag and by slightly I mean it’s in milliliters or whatever,” Mr. Bisnett said. “The new bags are ordered and they are 15-gallon and they will be orange. ... We should have them in two to three weeks.”

He said the 30-gallon bags have not been ordered yet but the smaller bags seem to be a hotter commodity in recent times.

Last year, the 15-gallon bags were sold in packs of 10 at $1.40 per bag, and 30-gallon bags were available in packs of five at $2.80 each. The bags will be available at the village office, both of Potsdam’s Kinney Drug stores, Save a Lot, IGA Supermarket and the Casella offices.

“The original cost was higher than we wanted. ... There is a resin issue and the price of resin has gone up but it’s less than 2 cents. So that’s much more passable and I ordered them,” Mr. Bisnett said.

Mr. Aitken said he has does not have concerns over the smaller bags but has numerous issues with the 30-gallon ones.

“I understand that whoever designed the bags certainly wasn’t a user as far as I’m concerned. ... The 30-gallon bags. I had to come up with a scheme so I could use the big garbage bags that we have to put the orange bags in. It seems to me that whoever was designing them didn’t think of the fact that it had to be used by people like me who weren’t geniuses,” he said. “I don’t understand why they would want to continue with the 30-gallon bags that don’t fit into the box that we were given in the first place.”

He also questioned the absence of a string apparatus to close the bags.

“Every Monday night or Tuesday morning it becomes a problem with what I have to do to get the bags sealed. I have to use packing Scotch tape to close them up,” Mr. Aitken said. “It would seem to me that they can design an element to fit inside the existent big, plastic box that we got now that could take a 30-gallon bag. ... It’s a pain in the neck that’s what it is.”

“I got the bags pleated only because someone suggested that we pleat it because people get these bags and they stand in them because they’re paying for the bag. There is some truth to that. There are people that pack these bags tight. They don’t rip because they’re pleated,” Mr. Bisnett responded. “I do have an inventory of (30-gallon bags), and we’re going to order those. We’re going to throw some 15-gallon bags away. We still have some left.”

“I’m not interested in buying 30-gallon bags that look like the 30-gallon bags you got now. They don’t fit into my box. Have you ever considered how to fit them into the box?” Mr. Aitken asked.

“The carts you have that we supply are 90 gallons,” Mr. Bisnett answered.

He told board members that the sticker program had a 34.6 percent recycling rate by weight from August 2012 to August 2013 and the inception of the new program last year increased the figure by 5.4 percent.

“If you look at where we were sticker-wise a year ago or two years ago - what we ordered for stickers that would last about a year - we’re out of 15-gallon bags, just about out of them. But we have a huge amount of 30-gallon bags,” Mr. Bisnett said.

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