Supervisors agree to share recycling costs, but with conditions

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The Washington County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to share the cost of recycling with WEMIGA Waste Inc. but only if there is an overall loss.

During the regular supervisors meeting Tuesday, July 10, supervisor Richard Young said it only made sense for the county and City of Washington to assist with cost if there is an overall loss as a result of declining recyclable prices. The comments came after county attorney John Gish had presented two amended contracts at the meeting based on previous discussion. WEMIGA had requested that the city and county share the expense of recycling products due to a price decline in recyclable materials.

?Anyone who is in business knows that you can lose money on one thing and make money on another,? Young said. ?We really need to look at the net profit. I don?t think we should make up if he loses on a couple of products but makes money in other areas. That is just doing business.?

Supervisor Abe Miller also commented that the city and county pays WEMIGA $166,000 per year to operate the joint recycling center. He added that the contract would share any loss with the city. Gish said he had sent copies of the contract to the city and WEMIGA, and had no reply.

Lynn Whaley, of WEMIGA Waste Inc. said at a previous meeting that pricing concerns had arisen based on the closing of the Chinese market for certain recyclables. He said it may be a while before new markets are developed. It was reported that 100 percent of recyclables on the West Coast had been going to China to be recycled and now are not. ?We have never seen a change like this in the United States where the market has went below zero,? Whaley said. ?It is one thing for it be zero, then to turn around and have to pay to get rid of it.?

Whaley said he is looking for temporary assistance in disposing of the items. The estimated cost was about $1,200 per month.

He noted the recycling community had begun seeing changes in fall 2017. By March, China shut down receiving material to recycle. The materials impacted are paper and plastics. Whaley said there are places that are just putting the recyclables in a landfill.

Whaley commented that the situation has only just happened and he wants to see if a new market opens before deciding to take the materials to the landfill.

?The recycling market is pretty cyclical and there are ups and downs,? City Administrator Brent Hinson during a prevous city council meeting. ?This is a pretty major market shock and it is just a matter of how long it will last.?

The city is expected to vote on the contract during its July 17 meeting.