- New York’s Cortland County voted last month not to accept ash from OCRRA's trash incinerator at the Cortland landfill, knocking down the proposed ash-for-trash deal between the county and OCRRA.
- Abandoning the ash-for-trash agreement means OCRRA will not import up to 35,000 tons of Cortland trash a year it needed to meet its quota of sending 345,000 tons of garbage to a trash-burning power plant to be used to generate electricity. OCRRA could incur $150,000 to $180,000 in penalties as a result, under its 20-year contract with plant operator Covanta Corp.
- OCRRA Public Information Officer Kristen Lawton said it's too early to predict whether the agency will incur a penalty or how a penalty would impact recycling programs or other services funded by the trash plant, according to Syracuse.com. But if fees are incurred, OCRRA may compensate by increasing tip fees or reducing services, though the OCRRA board recently voted to keep tip fees unchanged in 2016.
For the past three years, Onondaga County residents have sent historically low levels of garbage to the trash plant, which OCRRA officials say is a result of effective recycling programs. It’s a trade off: to amp up recycling and divert from landfill, while needing to generate or barter for trash to meet waste-to-energy goals, which requires incinerating massive volumes of trash.
In this case, the ash-for-trash deal would not only supply OCRRA with waste-to-energy resources to burn, but the agency would save $800,000 a year — a result of reduced transportation costs and landfill fees to move the ash.
"It would be, obviously, a strain on the OCRRA system'' if the agency had to pay a penalty, said Lawton. "Our board would have to make some decisions about how to move forward."