- Recyclables from Florida's Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties are going to two area landfills as the municipalities’ hauler, Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), searches for another place to dispose of them. The hauler is exploring a new way to deal with the recyclables until it can construct its own processing facility at Escambia County’s Perdido Landfill, slated for completion in May.
- ECUA discontinued an agreement to send the materials to Tarpon Paper Co., who added an unaffordable $12.50 per ton tipping fee on top of an existing $4 per ton fee for residue that renders materials unrecyclable. Prior to its arrangement with Tarpon, ECUA was processing its recyclables at a center in Montgomery that ended up closing due to poor market conditions, as reported by Pensacola News Journal.
- The hauler picks up recyclables for about 75,000 Escambia County customers and 20,000 customers in Santa Rosa County. About 66% of them use the recycling program. Residents are asked to keep using their recycling bins.
As the value of salvageable commodities continues to drop and haulers’ and processors’ expenses climb, companies are looking for creative ways to stay afloat. But the market and need are still there in the way of municipalities that are determined to get closer to zero waste. And some of them are doing well on the recycling front.
Despite its rocky times, ECUA is determined to find a viable recycling model.
"I'll reiterate that we're 100% committed to our recycling program, and we are working on developing our own facility working with Escambia County," Bowers said. "So again, we're considering this a temporary operational issue that we'll work through and get back on our recycling feet."
Tarpon, too said they are working to make ends meet, and the weakened market necessitated the increased charges.
In a letter to customers this month, Tarpon Paper President Bud Cooper said, "We will review the changing markets on a monthly basis and when/if the markets change, this charge will be adjusted."
Santa Rosa County Administrator Hunter Walker does not project a near-future resolution, but he expects ECUA to continue its relationship with the county as the two entities anticipate the 2016 completion of the local recycling center.