Dealing with waste, Bruno’s hauls trash and recylables

One of Bruno's recycling trucks. The yellow device picks up and unloads the recyclable barrels.
Photo by Ralph Stewart

One of Bruno's recycling trucks. The yellow device picks up and unloads the recyclable barrels.

Handling much of the Vineyard’s waste is a seven-day a week task for Bruno’s Rolloff, the hauling company, and keeping the trash and recyclables separate is an important part of the job, according to Greg Carroll, Bruno’s president. Trash costs more than recyclables to get rid of, he says, and it costs to dispose of both.

In Tisbury, where Bruno’s has the contract to pick up trash and recyclables, and in areas where there are higher concentrations of private customers, Bruno’s uses separate trucks for trash and recycling.

Occasionally, Mr. Carroll said, he has received complaints from customers that the recyclables they had separated appeared to be combined with the trash in the trucks. He explained that in areas where the pickups are few and far between, especially in the winter, smaller trucks are used that have a 230-gallon area in the rear for recyclables. “Yes, they are put into the same truck, but recyclables and trash are kept separate,” he said.

A few years ago recyclables were sorted by plastics, glass, paper, and cardboard, but now Bruno’s uses “single stream recycling,” which eliminates the need for customers to sort the recyclables into sub-categories. Recyclables all go into one container.

Mr. Carroll pointed out that the town of Tisbury subsidizes the recycling pickups while the customers must pay for the trash, $4.50 per barrel, $3 for seniors.

“People try to sneak trash into the recycling bins all the time to save money,” he said. That creates a problem. Having trash in with the recyclables downgrades the quality of the load, requiring more work and increasing the cost.

To combat the slackers, Mr. Carroll has equipped the recycling trucks with remote cameras and radios. The trucks, which have mechanical arms that pick up the bins, have cameras that allow the drivers to see, without having to get out of the truck, if the barrels contain only recyclables. When there is a problem the driver sometimes use onboard radios to call for a trash truck, but more often he places what Mr. Carroll calls “communication stickers,” a bright orange notice that the barrel could not be emptied.

He said that the cost of disposing recyclables has fluctuated over the last couple of years from a charge of $10 per ton two years ago to a payment to the hauler of $25 a ton about a year ago. Currently recyclables are bringing $5 per ton.

Mr. Carroll estimates trucking and ferry charges at around $49.50 per ton for everything he carries, and he said he has to pay employees to separate some of the recyclables from the trash. He pointed out that Bruno’s has never made money handling recyclables. Costs are mitigated by the money he earns from trucking a variety of goods back to the Island in the same trucks used to send waste off Island.

Mr. Carroll said the cost of trash disposal off Island is $60 per ton, not including the $49.50 per ton trucking charges. Charges for disposing construction debris off Island vary with the nature of the loads.

He ships one or two trucks carrying a total of about 28 tons of trash off Island six days a week. He ships about 14 tons of recyclables a week during half the year and 28 tons the other half. “We are shipping about three loads of construction debris off every day,” he said.

Almost 60 percent of the waste Bruno’s handles comes from commercial accounts and the bulk of that is from construction sites, according to Mr. Carroll, who seems to store most of the business’s figures in his head. Close to 30 percent of the construction waste is recyclable. The waste from residential accounts contains between 33 and 40 percent recyclables, he said.

Most construction waste is collected in rolloffs, open containers ranging in size from 15 to 55 cubic yards, that slide on and off flatbed trucks. Bruno’s owns 192 of the containers. The drop-off fee for rolloffs is $69. The pickup fee ranges from $99.50 to $128.50, according to location, plus a tipping charge of $169.75 per ton.

Private residential customers pay $5.95 for a 96-gallon tote of recyclables. Trash averages around $15 to $19 a pickup, a little bit more for Aquinnah and Chilmark customers. The minimum charge covers three barrels. Bruno’s has a two-barrel price for seniors, who, he said, produce less trash generally, of about $9 per pickup.

“We have a lot of commercial stops that need daily recyclable pickups in the summer, some who need six or seven a week because they don’t have space for storage,” Mr. Carroll said. “On Sundays during July and August we will sometimes combine the trash and the recyclables in a truck and sort it out at the transfer station because it is more cost effective.”

Unsorted waste is sorted and compacted on the floor of the Oak Bluffs collection station, which Bruno’s runs, every week or two and loaded into one of four 115-yard live floor trailers that can carry up to 33 tons. The “live floor” is a system of moving slats on the trailer floor that will unload each trailer in about fifteen minutes automatically. Mr. Carroll pointed out that the moving floor will also push gravel and other goods to the front of the trailers for the return trips.

Cardboard is compacted and handled separately. There is even a Bruno’s dedicated cardboard truck used with larger customers.

Bruno’s ships recyclables to Casella Waste Systems on the North Shore. They have been in the recycling business since 1977, with more than 30 locations throughout New England.

Construction debris is taken to New England Recycling in Taunton and resorted.

Bruno’s began hauling trash to the Crapo Hill Landfill last year, a landfill developed by the towns of Dartmouth and New Bedford and described as a state of the art, lined landfill on their website. Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven signed a 10-year agreement with Crapo Hill last year.

Gases created by decomposition within the landfill are collected through a system of perforated pipes installed throughout the landfill. The gas is piped to the electric plant operated by CommonWealth New Bedford Energy LLC, where it is burned to generate 3.4 megawatts of electricity. The power is sold to NSTAR.

Find more information on Bruno’s Rolloff go to brunosmv.com.