Cities abandon Utah county recycling plan, leaving new MRF in tough spot
- After months of discussion about changing the recycling arrangements in Weber County, UT multiple municipalities have decided to split off and contract with local company Recycled Earth due to cost factors, as reported by the Standard-Examiner.
- Since 2011, Recycling Waste Solutions had been transporting baled, unsorted recyclables from the county's transfer station. Yet the contract terms were negotiated when markets were higher and the county has since been losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year due to low commodity values and high operating costs. Recycled Earth has offered to take recyclables for free.
- The county had originally planned to contract with new company Revolve, which would have taken the material for a $20 per ton tipping fee, but their new material recovery facility isn't open yet. Residents weren't willing to see their material sent to a landfill for the one-month interim period and the county has since backed out of its deal with Revolve.
Because Recycled Earth has subcontracted transport to Recycling Waste Solutions the end result is still the same, but operating costs are lower. The unsorted recyclables will be shipped to California or beyond with no concerted effort to improve diversion rates. While the transfer station saw a 200% increase in recycling tonnage between 2005 and 2015, along with a decrease in refuse tonnage, the county's diversion rate is still just 7.1%.
Revolve had outlined plans to improve that by offering education and accepting glass to offset landfill tip fees. They would have also shared future profits with the county via rebates. All of this material would have gone through the company's new facility that will have the capability to sort up to 50 tons per hour into 220 different categories. Their business plan includes focusing on five other states in the region, though a steady local contract would have provided more stability from the start.
Baling materials in regions that are farther from large markets is fairly common, but unpopular among some recycling professionals and environmental advocates. Transportation emissions may be offset by compacting the material, but some of it - particularly paper and glass - may lose value in the process. This issue was recently discussed in Ann Arbor, as the city works to get its material recovery facility back online, and could be a future talking point for companies such as Revolve that are trying to stake their claim in more remote markets.
- Standard-Examiner Cities bailing on Weber County recycling program
- Standard-Examiner Recycling costs, participation pile up for Weber County
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