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To allow for maximum flexibility and offer a competitive price, the town contracts out the residential solid waste/recycling/diversion items per the triennial bidding process. The last bid was accepted in late 2017.
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Every user of the Transfer Station is required to stop to ensure that all vehicles entering the Transfer Station are doing so at a safe speed.
The Transfer Station check-in agent will perform the following:
The Waste Connections staff present at the Transfer Station is present to assist the Transfer Station users in disposing of their waste and also to ensure the safety of the Transfer Station users.
Although recyclables currently are free to dump at RIRRC, the Town still incurs a cost for the transportation of recyclables to the RIRRC recycling facility in Johnston, RI. That cost is offset by the sticker cost.
Trailers are not allowed in part due to increased likelihood of dumping of yard waste derived from commercial businesses as well as to mitigate concerns over ongoing damage to "the shed" from trailers.
Per the “Transfer Station Application Rules and Regulations” document, the use of a pickup truck does not allow for the hauling of ‘truckloads’ of Construction and Demolition (C&D) debris or Asphalt, Brick, Concrete (ABC) without the purchase of a ‘large load’ (over 32 gallons) permit for $75 at Town Hall.
Seasonal residents that reside in Portsmouth less than half the year will have their vehicles registered in their state of primary residence. In addition, Portsmouth is the temporary home to many of our military personnel. Residents falling in either one of these categories satisfy the “residency requirement” and are eligible to apply for a Transfer Station sticker.
The Transfer Station staff is charged with ensuring that all materials coming into the Transfer Station are placed into its correct container. A failure to correctly divert all materials that can be diverted and the contamination of recyclables directly lead to a higher cost borne by all users of the Transfer Station.
When arriving to the Transfer Station notify the check-in agent to coordinate placing the object outside the “Scrap Metal” bin or request assistance placing inside the “Scrap Metal” bin. This ensures that materials are left in a coordinated location, allows for proper traffic flow, and follows safety procedures.
Per the accepted bid during the 2017 selection process, each additional contracted employee to cover all the hours of operation of the Transfer Station would cost $85K annually:
RIRRC asks for cardboard to be flattened (cut down pieces to less than 3 feet by 5 feet by 1 foot).
In addition, to allow the RIRRC Single Stream recycling machine to more efficiently process recyclables, RIRRC requests paper to remain flat (i.e., do not bunch up into balls), and to keep paper sheets intact (i.e., do not rip up into tiny pieces).
Sensitive documents can be disposed of at community “Shred-it” events held periodically throughout the year.
Insurance requirements of the town do not allow us to have scavenging of any material at the Transfer Station. This includes the “Give and Take” area.
Safety is a top priority and so it was decided to correct this potential safety issue of folks exiting their vehicles and walking around the Transfer Station. Additionally, this contributes to traffic backup.
We do ask that if someone has something they would want to reuse that they donate it to a local charitable organization or give away free via the private Facebook group “Aquidneck Island Families Sell and Swap,” the free section of Criagslist.org, or to charitable organizations, of which several examples are listed below:
The PAYT town bags can be recycled via the plastic bag “Restore” program available at multiple local retailers or they can be given to a grateful fellow resident. The PAYT town bags themselves are not to be placed in the Single Stream recycling “pit” as they will cause issues with the Single Stream sorter at RIRRC. The PAYT town bags are made up of 30% recyclable material.
The producer of PAYT bags, Waste Zero, only sells the bags in bulk quantities to retailers, so the Town is unable to keep a few boxes either at Town Hall or the Transfer Station to sell individual boxes or bags.
The best way to generalize the Transfer Station Sticker and the PAYT bag revenue is that the annual stickers cover the fixed costs (overhead, personnel, etc.) while the PAYT bags cover the variable costs (transportation and tipping fees).
In an effort to reduce the sticker price for those residents who generated smaller amounts of trash, the PAYT program was adopted where all Transfer Station users paid a lower base price and the remainder of the per user cost was applied via a progressive funding mechanism – the households that generated more solid waste would pay more akin to a utility bill. PAYT bag revenue is a funding mechanism and is simply a way to help spread the cost of trash disposal in a fairer way.
In summary the PAYT bags serve two important purposes:
ECONOMIC: The Town receives the majority of the monies earned from the sale of every bag and this money is automatically deposited for the Town and enters into the Town’s Transfer Station Enterprise Fund. This money, along with the money from the sale of Transfer Station stickers, helps fund the cost of operating the Town Transfer Station including but not limited to transportation costs and RIRRC “tipping fees” paid per ton of solid waste.
ENVIRONMENTAL: The use of PAYT bags has demonstrated outstanding reductions in the tonnage of solid waste being disposed of at the Transfer Station. Since PAYT was initiated, Portsmouth has seen an approximately 50% reduction in solid waste disposal and doubling of the recycling rate!
The PAYT paradigm monetarily incentivizes residents to educate themselves on recycling and diversion. Additional ways to reduce the amount of household solid waste (to reduce PAYT costs) include but are not limited to:
Before shipping, Transfer Station staff compacts yard waste. The pit is cleared of the original material inside it (loaded inside a container for shipping to RIRRC facility) then yard waste is deposited for compacting as part of a process of loading it into a container to be brought to RIRRC’s facility. Compacting yard waste directly reduces the amount of trips to RIRRC, which in turn saves the Town money.
The Transfer Station policy regarding tarps must balance convenience, liability, and overall safety and flow of operations for all users of the Transfer Station. Open containers (such as a tarp) make it difficult to control the yard waste debris. Spills occur that would require continuous clean-up by Transfer Station staff, drawing them away from other responsibilities. There also exists the possibility of a larger item, like a large branch or small stump, falling out of a tarp and another resident tripping over loose items. All yard waste shall be transported to the Transfer Station contained in a reusable box or barrel, or in yard bags (which can be filled via a Leaf Chute ®).
Yard Waste is not intended for food compost! It is intended for grass clippings, brush, and plant debris. Fruits, vegetables, and other food items from gardens attract pests. There are several local composting initiatives and compost bins are available from the Tax Collector’s Office at Town Hall for $45 each.
No. RIRRC (state landfill) does not accept any yard waste loads with branches larger than 2 inches in diameter.
If composting is not a feasible option for stumps and larger tree limbs, local landscaping and tree services can provide wood chipping and stump grinding services. Additionally, the RIRRC facility in Johnston, RI accepts tree stumps if placed in the “Stump Container.”
The Town continues to receive reports from Transfer Station staff of unusual C&D/ABC dumping habits. In order to discourage commercial businesses from using the Transfer Station to dispose of construction debris, more stringent requirements are necessary. Commercial users dumping C&D/ABC which is not derived from personal household projects are externalizing their business-related disposal costs onto the other Transfer Station sticker holders.
There is the option to purchase additional C&D/ABC passes from Town Hall, and additionally, residents can review commercial options as listed in the "Dumpster/junk removal" classifieds of local newspapers.
RIRRC has stood up an A-Z portal where “oddball” items, or any item, can be queried for how to dispose of them:
For 2018, Portsmouth has defined “bulky waste” as consisting of household furniture (pillows removed) that could not fit in a PAYT bag. The items in the “Bulky Waste” bin are eventually compacted in the solid waste pit.
The “Bulky Waste” bin is provided as a convenience, but is often a source of confusion. It has been reported by Transfer Station staff that residents throw in items that are large, but could fit into PAYT bags (e.g. basketballs, cushions, pillows, and suitcases). More alarmingly, it has been reported that it appears commercial businesses (e.g., realtors, trash removal services, etc.) that empty houses of furniture are abusing the “Bulky Waste” bin under the guise of being ordinary residential users of the Transfer Station.
Any item disposed as bulky waste adds to the tonnage (RIRRC tipping fees) and transportation costs. As a comparable, Middletown offers residents participating in their curbside PAYT program quarterly bulky waste “amnesty days,” otherwise fees are assessed for various bulky waste items:
In Portsmouth, most of the items listed at the above URL can be diverted (toilets, bicycles, appliances, wood, clean mattress/box spring, etc). can all be diverted for free to ABC, scrap metal, appliances, C&D, and finally mattresses, respectively.
There is a container for disposing of used motor oil before entering the Transfer Station shed.
Most automotive parts contain hazardous (liquid or solid) waste and cannot be disposed of at the Transfer Station!
Hazardous waste must be disposed of via the RIRRC Eco-Depot program. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (401) 942-1430 (extension 241) or via the form at the following URL:
If the item is scrap metal (including nuts and bolts) and free of hazardous (liquid or solid waste), please place in the “Scrap Metal” bin. Otherwise, the item should be placed in PAYT bags (bushings, rubber hoses, bumper claddings, etc.).
Short answer, it depends!
If not other disposal or recycling method is available, single-use batteries can be placed in a PAYT bag.
Automotive batteries can be dropped off at the Transfer Station but we ask that you inform Transfer Station personnel beforehand. Automotive batteries incur a core fee when purchased which is refundable when the old battery is exchanged. In addition, any lead-acid battery can be brought to Wal-Mart free of charge:
Rechargeable (e.g., nickel metal hydride [NiMH or Ni–MH], nickel-cadmium [NiCd or NiCad]), and lithium batteries are considered hazardous waste.
Hzardous waste must be disposed of via the RIRRC Eco-Depot program. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 401-942-1430 (extension 241) or via the form at the following URL:
Large, flexible items, like a trampoline or a boat cover, can cause the Transfer Station compactor to jam which leads to downtime and unexpected maintenance costs. Such items shall be cut up and placed into a PAYT bag. Any solid components are recommended to be stripped and placed into their respective diversion containers (e.g. metal from a trampoline into the “Scrap Metal” bin).
The items in the bulky waste container are placed in the compactor pits before shipment to RIRRC. Large, flexible items such as carpets have been demonstrated to jam the compactor at the bottom of the solid waste “pit.”
Because of this, we ask that all residents conform to RIRRC guidance regarding carpets and cut carpets into 3 foot by 3 foot lengths and tie them before placing them into the “Bulky Waste” bin. If left untied, carpets will unfurl and jam the compactor pits.
No. Carpet pads often break apart and can create quite a mess! For this reason, carpet pads must be placed into a PAYT bag for disposal.
Fluorescent light bulbs contain highly toxic mercury and must be disposed of via alternative means. In addition to Eco-Depot, there are several local options for safe disposal:
1) Home Depot accepts compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) but not tubes:
2) There are several local hardware stores that accept CFLs and fluorescent light tubes. It is advisable to call beforehand to ensure space in their fluorescent light bins:
If possible, it is recommended to donate or sell furniture. As a last resort, remove pillows (if applicable) and place in a PAYT bag. The remainder of the household furniture shall be placed in the “Bulky Waste” container.
NO! Plastic bags are consistently the most common contaminant and can cause complete shutdown of the RIRRC single stream recycling machines. An overview of their operations is detailed in the following video:
Plastic bags can be recycled by bringing them to local retailers that participate in the “Restore” program. This program uses marked blue boxes (usually at the front of a store) where a person can put their plastic bags so that they are recycled. Any plastic that is “stretchy” can be recycled via the “Restore” program, otherwise it will need to be placed in a PAYT bag.
For more information regarding acceptable plastic films for the “Restore” bins watch:
Mattress and box spring disposal is free for Portsmouth residents with a Transfer Station sticker if:
NOTE: This program does not include: • mattress pads/toppers • sleeping bags • pillows • car beds • mattresses smaller than twin size • water beds • air mattresses • fold-out sofa beds • futons. If possible, these items should be cut up and placed into PAYT bags, or otherwise disposed of as bulky waste.
RI Public Law 2013-423 set up the Rhode Island Mattress Recycling Program for Municipalities:
The name of the organization that establishes the collection criteria is called “The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC).” They work in conjunction with a company that is called ‘Mattress Express” who deliver the mattresses. It is this company that inspects the material and who insist on exacting standards.
There are alternatives for mattress and/or box spring disposal. Give away new or gently used mattress and box springs in the "FREE" section of Craigslist.org, FreeCycle.org, or “Aquidneck Island Families Sell & Swap” on Facebook.
Anyone may bring mattresses and box springs to Ace Mattress Recycling (free of charge) or to Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC). Learn more by calling the RIRRC scale house at 401-942-1430, ext. 101.
A resident can still divert the mattress and/or box spring but they would need to “break it down” to its respective components. For example, a dirty mattress can be cut open and the springs removed and placed into the “Scrap Metal” bin, plastic cladding and padding stripped and placed in PAYT bag(s), and any wood from box springs can also be stripped and placed in the “C&D bin” (charges may apply if over 32 gallons of C&D).
The $70 fee is the cost that that is assessed to the town by RIRRC for any soiled or wet mattress or box spring disposed of at the State landfill.
After examining multiple 3-year bid proposals for curbside pickup and continued operation of the Transfer Station, the Town Council decided on October 10, 2017 to utilize the Transfer Station as the Town’s residential solid waste/recycling option through 2020.
Therefore, the Town does not offer curbside trash collection, however, curbside pickup is available for a fee from private haulers. Recycling has been mandatory in Rhode Island since 1996:
The Transfer Station sticker fee is the primary funding mechanism for the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund to pay for the cost of disposing of waste.
The fee schedule has increased over time as the RIRRC seeks to extend the life of the landfill.
It is NOT an option to throw away your trash for free! There is a local littering ordinance and a very strict state littering law:
Trash disposal was removed from the tax base in the 2006 timeframe as a large number of residents that utilized curbside pickup argued they were being effectively “double charged” for a trash disposal mechanism that they could not or did not wish to utilize. A Transfer Station Enterprise Fund was set up to fund operations associated with residential solid waste/recycling and diversion.
Folding the costs of trash disposal into the Town’s budget would mean all high priority budget items would be knocked out as RI law dictates that the municipal tax levy may not be increased 4% year over year:
No. Please note that it is anticipated that the property tax exemptions already available to the elderly and other special situation taxpayers are considered sufficient to provide fairness to those individual taxpayers.
The Town Council approves the recommended fee developed by Town staff roughly 1-2 months before the “new sticker year.” The fee is established by projecting the minimum user fee to fully fund the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund for the upcoming year. All Transfer Station sticker fees (and PAYT revenue) is deposited in a town-managed Transfer Station Enterprise Fund to provide the money needed to pay for the Town’s solid waste and recycling program.
Due to multiple sources of information (RIRRC, our selected Transfer Station operator Waste Connections [formerly Vinagro], the Recycling Coordinator, the Town's website, Rules document, rumors around Town, etc.) inconsistencies and misinformation can develop.
In addition, there are market trends and polices and rules dictated to the Town (and sometimes state and federal authorities) over which the Town has no control. For example, in the past year China has clamped down on “contaminated” recyclables, now rejecting any loads with more than 0.5% contamination (formerly 5%)..
Mattresses and box spring collections were defined by RI Law 2013-423 and the fee for soiled mattresses or box springs was raised from $50 to $70 in the middle of 2018.
That being said, the Town, Town Council, and the Solid Waste Recycling Committee (SWRC) is continually working to ensure that the numerous informational sources are in harmony and do not contradict each other.
The Town Council formed the Solid Waste Recycling Committee (SWRC). Its mission is to increase the recycling/diversion rate, review problems and develop solutions that are recommended to the Town Council.
The SWRC also helps create an Annual Report that assists in developing town policy and budgets relating to solid waste disposal and recycling.
The SWRC meets the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Portsmouth Room, Town Hall:
SWRC meetings are open to the public, and agenda and minutes may be reviewed at:
Please contact the Town’s Recycling Coordinator, Raymond Antaya, who will forward the communication to the appropriate channel(s). The Recycling Coordinator’s contact information (e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org and telephone number: 401-643-0359) is always posted in the left-hand sidebar at:
Alternatively, the Town has an online “Fix-it Form” that includes a “Transfer Station Issues” checkbox which will direct those issues to Raymond Antaya:
Prudence Island has constraints due to a different Transfer Station operator (Lawrence) and a year round population of roughly 150 residents. The scope of island trash services is defined by the bid selected:
The PAYT program is intended to financially incentivize event organizers to divert and compost waste from their events. Allowing exceptions to PAYT creates a “slippery slope” that undercuts the spirit of implementing PAYT.
The selected bid does not include yard waste. To allow for proper oversight, yard waste disposal at the DPW facility must match the hours of the Prudence Island Transfer Station.