Delta County Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept a $125,000 per year proposal from Double J Recycling to handle the county’s recycling program.
The new agreement made during the April 20 regular commissioner meeting will extend recycling from the Hotchkiss Transfer Station to the entire county with bin locations in Delta, Cedaredge and Hotchkiss. The agreement with Double J will be reviewed after the first year.
Prior to accepting the new agreement, Rachel Leonard, Double J manager, gave a report on the current status of global marketing and its effects on local recycling. Issues surrounding recycling include the cost of freight; the limited types of material that can be recycled and not having a viable market outside of the country.
“Currently the nation is recycling, people feel really good about it. Diverting material from the landfill is important but the infrastructure in America is not quite there to take all the materials that are recyclable,” Leonard told commissioners.
Leonard said the focus for her company is to collect only materials that are actually turned into new products. She also spoke about the problem of collection sites being contaminated by other non-recyclable materials and trash.
“Just because you put something in a recycling bin does not make it recyclable,” said Leonard calling the practice “aspirational recycling.”
Following Leonard’s report, County Administrator Robbie LeValley went over the initial recycling proposals from Double J previously reviewed at the April work session.
LeValley reported that in 2012 Delta County began a pilot program to address recycling needs and how to best divert product from Adobe Buttes Landfill. At that time, LeValley said commissioners stated that as private enterprise became successful, the county would get out of the recycling business.
Delta County currently subsidizes $42,000 annually for free recycling at the North Fork Transfer Station located outside of Hotchkiss. County residents can also pay $5 per carload at Double J Recycling located outside of Austin.
LeValley told the board that Gunnison County spends over $300,000 with Mesa at $120,000; Garfield at $30,000. LeValley said Montrose County does not subsidize recycling, but the city does offer some recycling options for residents.
“Private enterprise provides recycling services in Mesa County and City of Montrose. Gunnison County provides free recycling however the product must be sorted by the constituent,” LeValley told commissioners.
She mentioned numerous problems at the Hotchkiss Transfer Station including household trash, dead animals, oil and other non-recyclables found in the recycle, all resulting in contamination.
LeValley addressed the possibility of private enterprises providing a recyclable option for Delta County, problems with world wide markets for recyclables and the cost of freight for glass recyclables. She mentioned the upcoming expansion at the landfill and the projected cost of over $3 million for a state approved cell liner.
Double J, the lone bidder, offered two separate options for recycling at the April work session. The first bid at $2,000 below current costs at $40,000 including a free paper and/or cardboard bin in Delta, Cedaredge and Hotchkiss; a $25 punch card (valid for 10 visits per year); $5 — $25 one time drop of recycling based on amount and type of material and a $5 per bag of single stream recyclables.
The second bid was in the amount of $125,000 including a free paper and/or cardboard bin in Delta, Cedaredge and Hotchkiss and free recycling to all residents at the Double J facility in Austin.
LeValley offered a report on the current diversion of recycling at the landfill. She said there are approximately 5,745 cubic yards that are not going into the landfill on an annual basis. LeValley offered a comparison between “compacted tonnage versus tonnage with air space.” She said between landfill costs and trucking fees the cost is at $119,000 plus yearly.
“Again the difference in the numbers from the work session to here was simply a matter of the actual weight of the bin versus the compacted weight,” she told the board.
LeValley said staff looked at adding additional staff at the Hotchkiss Transfer Station to oversee the recyclable bins, if they stayed with the first option. She said that would amount to competing with private industry plus an increased salary of $55,000 coupled with the need to add water and electricity at the site.
“Our recommendation is to go with Option B from our single vendor for a period of one year to determine viability and reevaluate after that year,” LeValley told commissioners.
Although three companies looked at the bid for recycling, only Double J responded. Commissioner Don Suppes said the lack of interest was probably due to current market conditions.
“We need to look at this pragmatically. Contrary to the fan club on Facebook, it’s not our job to fix recycling. We need to make sure that we are doing what’s best for our land fill, that we can try and divert as much as possible. The landfill costs continue to incline and the next phase is going to be expensive,” Suppes said.
As for the Hotchkiss Transfer Station, Suppes said with all of the problems at the site he did not believe the county was “getting its money’s worth or diverting the kind of landfill waste that it needed to.” At nearly three times the current cost, Suppes said he hopes the outcome will be different.
Bob Kalenak, Delta County Citizen Report, wanted to know why the board would accept a proposal of $125,000 when it could stay at the current $42,000 and add a staff person at the transfer station at $55,000, essentially staying under the higher bid.
“Can you explain why the first two options aren’t the more acceptable options?”
“It’s still a matter, if we look across the whole county,...making the recycling for a broader audience,” answered LeValley.
Kalenak posed additional questions and comments to the board including his argument that the second option did not seem to make financial sense.
“We weigh this option as to what it costs to process this garbage through the landfill versus what we would get through recycling. If we can get more cubic yards out of our landfill at $125,000, it will be worth it, if we can’t, then we’ll know in a year,” Suppes said.
“With all due respect commissioner, I don’t see anything that’s increasing the use of recycling with what you are proposing,” Kalenak countered.
“And you are entitled to your opinion, thank you,” said Suppes effectively ending the conversation.
Commissioners did not address the exact location of the recycling bins, leaving citizens wondering about the future of the Hotchkiss Transfer Station. In a follow up statement on Tuesday, April 27, LeValley said Double J is diligently working on locations and the county will notify the public as soon as the locations have been determined.