Slow recycling market forces county changes
A downturn in the value of recyclable materials is forcing Morgan County Recycling to circle the wagons, but changes to the system won't result in additional charges to county residents.
Brenda Blankenship, director of the county's environmental services, said Athens-Limestone Recycling in Athens informed her last month that it would not accept materials from outside Limestone County beginning May 1. Deflated prices for recyclables forced layoffs that reduced the facility's ability to process out-of-county materials.
In order to continue to provide recycling services, the county has two options Blankenship said.
In order to continue to sell recyclable materials collected in Morgan County, the commission could build its own recycling facility like the one in Athens. That option is impractical because the sale of recyclable material has generated an average of only $150 per month recently, Blankenship said.
"A recycling facility would be very expensive – in the hundred of thousands of dollars to build and staff."
The other option is to find a company to take the materials off the county's hands so it doesn't end up in its landfill. At Blankenship's recommendation, the county approved a contract with Browning Ferris Industries to accept material collected in Morgan County at a cost of $40 per ton.
"BFI will take it all including glass," she said. "This is the only answer to keeping recycling in the county."
In addition to accepting the BFI contract, the commissioners approved the purchase of four 18-cubic-yard recycling trailers at a cost of $45,400 from Pro-Tainer, Inc. of Mass.
The trailers will be used at recycling drop-off points around the county.
The effect of the changes on the future of curbside recycling in Hartselle is unknown.
Hartselle Mayor Clif Knight said he would check on the status of negotiations with Decatur to continue curbside recycling in Hartselle in light of the county actions.
Knight said County Commission Chairman Larry Bennich has indicated he would support Hartselle's bid to come back under the arrangement that provides the curbside service in Decatur. He also said Decatur Mayor Lynn Fowler has indicated Hartselle's reinstatement with the Decatur-Morgan County Landfill is under consideration.