By CHELSEY POLLOCK
Union Leader Correspondent
PELHAM -- By all counts, it’s been a great year for the Pelham Environmental Recycling Complex, affectionately called PERC.
“We had a fantastic year with the economy the way it is and had a complete turnaround,” said complex director Ron Hannon on Monday.
Hannon said the town’s recyclables increased by nearly 120 percent in 2010, with 1,600 tons of recyclables coming through the PERC facility in 2010. The transfer station handled about 740 tons of recycling in 2009, Hannon said.
Revenues from recyclables nearly doubled in 2010, Hannon said, reaching $75,000 in revenue for the year-end total.
Residents also cut their total waste processed at the transfer station by 300 tons in 2010, with a total of 2,600 tons of waste moving through the complex by year’s end, Hannon said.
The program’s success is largely tied to the town’s new single-stream recycling program, which started last June, and facility updates that have been ongoing throughout the year, Hannon said.
“We knew that by making it easier for people to recycle, more of them would do it,” Hannon, a Pelham resident who is retired from the waste management industry, was hired by the town to coordinate transfer station improvements in November 2009.
Since then, Hannon dropped the “transfer station” moniker and updated employee uniforms to reflect a more environmental focus, he said.
Hannon got rid of numerous Dumpsters and compactors that had cluttered the drop-off area in favor of two long, opentop containers to streamline the process and reorganized driving lanes to allow cars to move through the facility more easily.
To encourage people to recycle, center staff placed small tree stickers on people’s cars as they visited the transfer station, allowing employees to identify and speak with those who had yet to recycle.
Hannon said he credits town selectmen for supporting the investments.
“It’s Pretty simple,” Hannon said. “You have to get somebody who cares about the facility and then give them a long enough leash to think outside the box.”
And now, Hannon said he hopes to see the town’s efforts recognized with a Green City Award at the 2011 Residential Recycling Conference in Nashville.
After the town received several informational brochures about the event and the award, Hannon said he decided to put the PERC in the running.
“I got a hold of it and started thinking, why not?” Hannon said. “To do something like this, you might not think it’s significant, but the people in the industry know it is.”
Conference leaders and attendees will recognize three community recycling education programs during the event held on March 29 through 31, according to the group’s website.
Pelham will be competing against other smaller communities in the category of municipalities with populations of less than 100,000 people.
Next year, Hannon said he hopes to explore composting home and yard waste at the complex and to improve the existing hazardous waste program.
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