Residents recycle at annual DropOff-SwapOff

The Concord Public Works campus on Keyes Road was overrun with recyclers Saturday.

One side of the building looked like an extra-large yard sale and the other seemed a desolation row of trash bins filled with scrap metal, construction materials and mattresses. On the lawn between the two grew a recycled sculpture with parts stolen away from each side.

It was the 22nd DropOff-SwapOff, a semi-annual event co-sponsored by REUSIT and Concord Public Works.

Fred Serr, president of REUSIT and volunteer coordinator for DropOff-SwapOff described the event as a day when people “basically get rid of materials that either are still good and still usable in which case they bring them to the SwapOff and people who can use them will spot them and take them, and if it’s not still usable, they bring it to the DropOff and we accept materials for recycling or disposal that people can’t readily recycle curbside or otherwise dispose of.”

Some of the things they take at the DropOff include scrap metal, electronics, Styrofoam, sneakers, batteries, bicycles and mercury containing items. Old toys, artwork, sports equipment and miscellaneous household items were scattered around the SwapOff.

REUSIT is responsible for recruiting the 130 to 140 volunteers it takes to run the DropOff-SwapOff, while another half-dozen town employees are involved. CPW provides the space and brings in all the vendors.

“It’s a team effort, all the way,” said Rod Robison, the environmental services program administrator for CPW. “It’s a social event as much as it is a great environmental event, but people don’t have to wait for the DropOff-Swapoff.”

Before leaving Keyes Road, droppers and swappers received reusable shopping bags, which contained a DropOff-SwapOff news brief with local options for year-round recycling.

About midway through the DropOff-SwapOff, Robison said it looked like Saturday’s event could be a record-setter. The spring event last year was the largest to-date, with 974 vehicles coming through.

“During the course of the day, we’ll have close to 1,000 vehicles come through the DropOff,” Serr said. “We don’t keep track of how much changes hands at the SwapOff, but we know that there’s a lot of stuff every time.”

Since 1998, the recyclable materials collected include 275 tons of scrap metal, 232 tons of electronics, 218 tons of construction and demolition materials, 3,271 55-gallon bags of Styrofoam, 416 bags of athletic shoes, 415 bags full of plastic bags, 2,947 pounds of Freon appliances, 976 cell phones and 857 bicycles. And that’s not counting the tons of items swapped off and the truckloads of children’s items, books and household goods collected by nonprofits and charities.

The event is essentially self-funding, according to Serr, who said the goal is to break even after paying to dispose of some materials, getting money back for recycling others and requiring participants to pay a reasonable fee.

“We charge enough money to cover the cost of disposing of things or recycling things and the other incidental expenses associated with the event,” Serr said. “The SwapOff is entirely free. There’s no charge over there.”

The next DropOff-SwapOff is scheduled for Oct. 17.

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