After the first year of curbside recycling under Logan County’s belt, numbers from the sale of commodities (recyclables) collected weren’t exactly what most anticipated when beginning the program. However, Judge Executive Logan Chick reminds customers that money wasn’t the reason behind starting a recycling program in the first place.
“I admit, I thought the numbers would be a little higher,” said Chick during Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting. “But it’s not about the money, it’s about doing the right thing for our community and the environment.”
When the county began a curbside recycling pilot program at the end of 2012 for close to 400 Scott Waste customers, a great deal of revenue ($1,200 in one year) was generated from the sale of those commodities and the county received a percentage of it. This was a selling point for many of the smaller cities, such as a skeptical Lewisburg, to jump on board a unified waste contract being pushed by the county between the unincorporated areas of Logan and the cities of Adairville, Auburn, Lewisburg and Russellville. This unified agreement allowed for all solid waste customers to begin recycling for little increase. Along with “doing the right thing” was the prospect of splitting these anticipated funds generated from the sale of commodities, thus killing two birds with one stone.
“This program has never been about creating big revenue,” said magistrate Thomas Bouldin, who spearheaded the recycling campaign. “The goal has always been about taking recyclable materials out of the waste stream and reducing the volume going into our landfill, which in turn, will extend the life of that landfill.”
Revenues received for the sale of commodities (recyclable material collected from 7,527 Scott customers) in the 2013-2014 fiscal year came in at $3,222.85. By using a percentage formula based on the number of customers in each city and the unincorporated areas of the county, the funds were split as follows: Adairville $154.37, Auburn $285.22, Lewisburg $158.24, Russellville $1,077.08 and Logan County $1,547.93.
Revenue generated from the recycling can fluctuate depending on the price given for commodities such as cardboard, plastic and paper.
In February of this year representatives of Scott Waste and Waste Management attended a fiscal court meeting to explain how the sale of commodities works and how sometimes when the market drops, money does as well.
Harrison Rogers of Waste Management, who accepts and runs the facility where the recyclables are taken, told the court in February that commodity prices had been down, but were expected to go back up. He added that because of a recent one and half million dollar enhancement project at the recycling facility, which allows for better sorting, his company chose to increase what it pays the county per ton, which would hopefully generate additional dollars. The payout went from $2.50 per ton for recyclable material to $8.50 per ton. The increase changed a bit after taking off the $3.25 of fees charged the county to sort through the recycling, which brought the actual increase to around $5 per ton. This was implemented to keep the county from having to pay out instead of getting paid back, which they unfortunately did once ($150), but vowed not to do again.
“It took a little while to get everyone used to it (recycling),” said Pete Reckard of Scott Waste. “There may be a little confusion still when to put the recycling cart out versus the waste carts, but for the most part customers are doing well.”
Because of Logan County’s decision to implement a countywide curbside recycling program, several other counties in Kentucky followed suit. Logan was the first county to start a recycling pilot program.
“To me, it’s about teaching our citizens how we can all work together to improve our community and our environment,” said Bouldin. “Any money generated from that is just another positive byproduct. Earning revenue for the county is completely secondary- simply a bonus for doing the right thing.”