The rate of recycling in Southampton is up 66 percent since 1998, reaching 85 percent, according to a new study by researchers at .
The study states that Southampton produced 35,696 tons of waste in 2009, with 5,441 tons being transported to waste facilities and 30,255 tons being recycled.
The town only accepts waste from self-haulers; private waste management companies cannot make drop offs at the Southampton transfer stations.
Southampton is unlike other Long Island towns: The report states that recycling rates slid throughout Long Island, falling to 24 percent of total waste in 2009 compared to 29 percent in 1998.
Though the drop in recycling may set off alarms, the study's authors said many factors were at play, including a move toward lighter packaging materials in the past decade and better tracking for recycling programs.
“Our study showed a decrease in all curbside recycling programs, which is at least partially the result of more precise accounting of recycling, and changes in materials — for example, the substitution of plastic for heavier materials and lighter packaging in general,” said study co-author R. Lawrence Swanson of the Waste Reduction and Management Institute in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook, in a statement.
Southampton, which covers 140 square miles, collects its garbage at four drop-of facilities, , Hampton Bays, Westhampton and . The transfer stations accept recyclables for free, but there is a pay-per-bag program garbage.
Waste Management transports recyclables to a number of centers, including Brookhaven, Gershow Recycling, Star Lite Propane Gas, E-scrap Destruction, Casings and Long Island Waste Oil. Yard waste goes to the town’s compost facilities in Hampton Bays, Westhampton and North Sea.
The bulk of the town's recycling is yard waste such as branches and leaves, making up 26,310 tons in 2009. Paper recycling amounted to 2,381 tons, while glass, metal and plastic containers amounted to 1,442 tons.