Private Trash and Recycling Station Open for Business

Valley Recycling, operated by the Duseau family, is on Easthampton Road at the site of the city's former burning dump, which closed in 1968. (David Reid photos)

Two public forums this week will focus on future city trash solutions, while one local company is already doing its part.


NORTHAMPTON – Even as a task force of mayoral appointees debates proposals for dealing with local trash and recycling after the city’s regional landfill closes next year, a new, privately run transfer and sorting station has opened for business at the edge of town.

The new facility at 234 Easthampton Road is on the site of Northampton’s former burning dump, which was closed by court order in 1968.

Valley Recycling, which features an industrial-sized drive-in facility for commercial haulers, is owned by Volume Reduction Associates (VRA), whose principal, David Duseau, is the son of long-time valley trash hauler Armand “Buddy” Duseau.

Two adjacent properties equaling 20 acres were purchased by VRA in 2009 for $1.7 million, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports. VRA is the very company that 10 years ago dropped plans to build a 40,000 square-foot regional transfer and sorting station in Hadley after a legal battle with residents.

The Duseaus Tackle Trash Solutions, Again

This isn’t the first time the Duseau family has quietly come up with a private-sector solution while the city was faced with a looming trash crisis.

“Buddy” Duseau was one of three young men who, in 1969, incorporated as Calduwood Enterprises and built the Northampton landfill on Glendale Road.  The city, forced to close its burning dump after the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, took the new “sanitary landfill” by eminent domain soon after it opened, but hired Calduwood to run the facility. Calduwood took the city to court, and in 1971 was awarded $110,000 for the property. (See story, The Valley Advocate, July 2008).

On Monday, Valley Recycling was processing garden-variety municipal solid waste.

Valley Recycling offers a Saturday drop-off option for private residents between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and is licensed to handle 150 tons of commercially hauled solid waste per day.

But what distinguishes the business is its capacity to handle construction and demolition debris (C&D), company spokesman Richard Carnall, Buddy Duseau’s son-in-law, told Northampton Media.

“All dumping takes place inside our 14,000 square-foot building, out of the weather on a concrete floor,” touts Valley Recycling’s website. “Our mission is to sort, then divert, reuse, and recycle as much material as possible, minimizing the waste that goes to the landfill.”

A Business Model Designed Around Ever-Changing State Regulations

Carnall cited cost, convenience, and ease of environmental compliance when asked about his business model.

“A contractor can get rid of C&D in small amounts at the Northampton landfill, and pay (the current rate of) $72.50 per ton, or can pay a comparable rate at our facility, drive in on a clean concrete floor, knowing that we can handle large volumes, and will reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible, completely in compliance with state environmental regulations.”

Truckers hoping to dump C&D at the city’s landfill are subject to numerous restrictions and bans, and may only bring in five cubic yards at a time, said Carnall; so one service Valley Recycling offers is the handling of materials that are banned in Massachusetts landfills, such as wood, paper, cardboard, metal, concrete, brick and asphalt.

Valley Recycling spokesman Richard Carnall says plans are afoot to offer daily drop-off service to residential customers.

Effective July 1, 2011, sheetrock will also be banned in state landfills; Valley Recycling will remove this material from the waste stream and send it to a recycling facility in Cambridge, Carnall said.

Much of the C&D will be trucked to larger sorting facilities in Wilbraham and Ware. Recyclables are taken to the Materials Recycling Facility in Springfield. Solid waste that can’t be recycled or reused gets taken to landfills in South Hadley, Granby, and Chicopee, or to a waste-to-energy burner in Milbury, Mass.

“We shop around for the lowest tipping fees,” said Carnall. “The Northampton landfill is generally not the most competitive option.”

Expanded Services Are Planned

The state Department of Environmental Protection found in a 2007 study (download pdf) that almost two-thirds of the two million tons of C&D generated yearly in Massachusetts leaves the state. About 70 percent of the state’s C&D ended up in landfills that year, either directly dumped or ground up and used as landfill cover; 13 percent was incinerated in waste-to-energy plants or in biomass burners, and only 13 percent, a little more than 300,000 tons, was recycled.

Shifting environmental regulations and increasingly high costs for landfills and incineration make reuse and recycling the most cost-effective option for getting rid of C&D nowdays, said Carnall.

The Easthampton Road facility is only open for residential trash and bulky item drop-off on Saturday mornings between 8 am and 2 pm, but Carnall said plans are afoot to offer six-day-a week service for residential drop-off. Large, bulky items such as mattresses, appliances, and electronics are also accepted.

Prices are comparable to those charged at Northampton’s municipal transfer station on Locust Street, at $1 for a 20-gallon kitchen bag, but Valley Recycling does not charge a yearly sticker fee.

“We get a lot of people from Easthampton, because it doesn’t offer any residential waste disposal services,” he said.

Two public forums on the City of Northampton’s options for post-landfill trash management have been scheduled; one for tonight, Monday, March 7, 7 p.m. at the JFK Middle School on Bridge Road; the other on Friday, March 11, 2 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center on Conz Street.

© 2011 Northampton Media

Mary Serreze can be reached at mserreze@northamptonmedia.com

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