Recycling plastic packaging too costly: public official
Posted by Jenni Spinner, Senior Editor -- Packaging Digest, 2/1/2013 8:40:00 AM
The solid waste supervisor at the Asotin County Regional Landfill says recycling plastics is costing the county about $8,000 a year and is not worth the effort.
Stephen L. Becker, who oversees the program, has asked the Asotin County commissioners to discontinue plastics recycling, saying it's an economic drain and doesn't provide a substantial environmental benefit. The commissioners plan to discuss the issue Monday.
"You get to the point where you have to decide how much you want to spend to recycle a commodity," Becker said. "You have to get it to a clean enough state that it can be recycled, and there is a cost to get the product to a recycling facility in Seattle or Portland. It takes fuel and manpower, and sometimes there's a larger environmental impact than if you just throw it away."
Some commodities, such as newspapers, catalogs, phone books, cardboard, aluminum and tin cans are ideal products for the recycling process, Becker said. But he said plastic milk jugs and water bottles are not cost-effective.
The Asotin County Regional Landfill recycles approximately 30 tons of plastics every year. It costs $77 a ton to sort and separate the plastics that are placed in bins at four unmanned sites in the county, and the landfill is paid just more than $20 a ton for the cleaned plastics, Becker said.
It costs the landfill about $4,000 a year for labor and equipment to haul the plastics to the recycling site. The charge for garbage that is left at the sites averages $2,160 a year.
"Our biggest problem is people bringing non-recyclable trash to the drop-off sites," Becker said. "We get garbage on the ground and in the container itself. We have to sort everything, and we don't have the workforce for that."
The No. 1 rule for plastics is the container's lid must be smaller than the actual container, such as milk jugs, water bottles and soda pop containers. Egg cartons, plastic bags and foam products are not acceptable.
Asotin County has four drop-off recycling sites for residents to use. Rinsed milk jugs and water bottles also are accepted at Lewis Clark Recyclers and Pacific Steel and Recycling, both located in Lewiston. Plastics are not accepted in the bins operated by the city of Clarkston inside city limits.
"Some people use our recycling sites for trash disposal," Becker said. "People who abuse the system are ruining it for the people who are doing an excellent job. They try to sneak stuff in all the time."
Becker figures if the county ends plastics recycling and it winds up in the landfill, it will use less than 22 cubic yards, which is roughly one-quarter of 1 percent of available space. Solid waste at the landfill is entombed, he said, so it won't become an environmental issue.
"I'd rather spend the county's time, manpower and efforts on recycling the products I believe are most economically feasible," Becker said.
When the proposal surfaced at this week's Asotin County commission meeting, the commissioners voiced concerns about ending the plastics recycling program in the county. They want more information before they make a decision.
Source: Asotin County Regional Landfill
As a manufacture of retail packaging, I can understand why a county or town would think about stopping a recycling program as you said it isn't economically feasible.
One of the biggest problems with recycling plastic is that as you mentioned in your article, you only accept water bottles and milk jugs. What about all the other plastic containers like cake domes and base, cookie trays, muffin containers, any and all toy or electronic packaging. If I may ask what happens to all that plastic that could be recycled and gain you more revenue??
There is so much plastic that could be recycled that is not due to the fact that smaller communities don't have the funds to properly recycle all the plastic they receive. Yet there is just a small portion of plastic that gets excepted into a recycling program.
We as communities have to look past the bottom line and remember what the right thing to do means.... I would ask you city council to adopt and allow all,plastic to be recycled. The majority of plastic is PET the #1 which is the most widely used plastic in the world, as well as the most recycled material in the world., but all plastic is recyclable and some of those plastics are badly needed and will bring more revenue if recycled. So I ask all communities to please look into all plastics and the revenue they can and will bring into your cities.
Cheryl Marshall - 2013-2-2 09:43:47 EST
No related content found.