Model City ProfileModel City Profile

Middletown, Rhode Island
Population: 17,350
Bottle Bill: No
Collection Method: Contractor
Funding: Pay-As-You-Throw and Flat Fee
Households Served: 4,500
Truck Type: Fully automated, compacting
Container Type: Two 64 gallon carts for recycling
Materials Processing Facility: Dual stream processing
Middletown, Rhode Island

Middletown, Rhode Island is located on Aquidneck Island just north of Newport, an international tourist destination. Until 2007, the Town operated a transfer station for residential refuse and recycling drop-off used by nearly 40% of the population. The balance subscribed to curbside refuse collection from private haulers operating on the Island. Subscription recycling was also available curbside for an additional cost from several haulers, although most households did not subscribe.

Middletown’s transfer station was located on valuable coastal property owned by the Navy and operated under a lease agreement. When the lease expired, the Town was forced to close the transfer station and look for alternatives. In response, Middletown put together a curbside refuse and recycling collection program based on rolling carts, a unit based pricing structure and a collection contract that was put out to bid to area haulers.

Waste Management won the contract for weekly curbside refuse and bi-weekly curbside recycling collection. Since the nearest recycling processing facility is dual stream, materials are collected on alternate weeks using two 64-gallon recycling carts (bottles and cans the first week, and paper the second). Recyclables are delivered to Waste Management’s transfer station in nearby Newport for transfer to the Rhode Island Resource Recovery dual stream MRF in Johnston, RI.

The Town initially offered free carts and the collection service to an estimated 6800 households residing in 1–4 family dwelling units. However the Town did not make participation in the PAYT program mandatory. Residents could choose either Middletown’s program and purchase PAYT bags, or continue with their current hauler (who was required under a new ordinance to offer an equivalent level of recycling service).

Roughly 4100 households are estimated to currently participate in the Town’s PAYT program, the Town having instituted a flat fee (now $75 per year) to help make the program self funding and obtain a better count of households using the service. Without the flat fee and the requirement that all households use the Town service, households received three free carts (one for refuse and two for recycling) and could use the free recycling service from the Town and dispose of refuse elsewhere.

Middletown residents recycled 1755 tons last year through the program, or between 500 and 800 pounds per household (the higher end being the case if the household count is indeed 4100). Middletown’s recycling rate more than doubled with the new recycling and PAYT program (which is based on a charge for each and every bag disposed even though carts are used for refuse).