Future of recycling in limbo

Given the Northwest Ontario Recycling Association will be defunct as of June 30, “blue box” pickup here will be no more for at least two months as no company has been found to take over the service.
But Fort Frances will try to get back on track and deliver the mandatory service to town residents as soon as possible, Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said Monday.
“We’re trying to find an agreement with another carrier. The latest offer was just too expensive so we’re still looking,”
“If people want to keep their recyclables and wait, they can, but they must know, the town won’t be picking it up after June 30,” he stressed.
The news was not surprising, though. As first reported in last Thursday’s Daily Bulletin, neither Fort Frances, Dryden, nor Atikokan had received reasonable responses to a request for proposal at a NORA meeting in Dryden.
“The reason for the negative response is there’s no market for the materials we’re recycling,” said Coun. Neil Kabel, who sits on the town’s Operations and Facilities executive committee.
“What’s sad is the province is saying as a municipality over 5,000, we have to recycle,” noted Coun. Dave Bourgeault. “And yet a lot of that stuff ends up in a landfill in the end [because it can’t be sold].”
Coun. Kabel said the Operations and Facilities executive committee continues to look into pursuing a solution of its own, with a deal with a company in Koochiching County, Mn. a possibility.
No further details on that are available at this time.
CAO Bill Naturkach said residents shouldn’t bother to stock up their recyclables given the indefinite date as to when recycling service might be restored here.
Glass still can be dropped off at the bins outside the Public Works building on Fifth Street East since the town recycles this itself by grinding it into asphalt.
And the situation seems to be the same elsewhere. NORA board members met in Dryden last Tuesday to discuss the results of its request for proposal, which ended up yielding just two by the deadline.
“Most of our board members were disappointed,” said NORA chair Dennis Brown, who also is the mayor of Atikokan.
One proposal—from DMM Industry of Dryden—was specifically for the City of Dryden while the other—by the southern Ontario-based Miller Group—was to serve all three communities.
“The cost seemed to be too high, at least for Atikokan,” said Mayor Brown. “We’re going to search around for other alternatives, possibly with Recool out of Thunder Bay.
“We’re running out of time,” he added. “We probably won’t have recycling in the first two weeks of July.”
In Dryden, Brad Johns, director of engineering and public works, also said the unreasonable cost of going with the Miller Group means their recycling future is uncertain, too.
“It’s muddy waters right now,” he remarked, adding a major factor is that NORA put its assets—including equipment and the processing plant—out to tender on Monday.
Dryden previously had assumed it would be the first to be offered the processing plant, at which time it would buy it and keep on processing recyclables, and only have to contract out a transportation service, which may or may not have been shared with Atikokan and/or Fort Frances.
But Johns noted the NORA board decided to pass a resolution putting all its assets out to tender.
“So Dryden will be bidding on it. Who knows who will end up with it? Maybe Miller?” said Johns.
The deadline for tenders is July 5.
But putting the plant out for tender means it will be shut down for July as some City of Dryden staff “clean up what’s left,” he added.
Dryden has been overseeing its operation since November.
Any revenue realized from the sale of the assets will be distributed to NORA’s partners, which, in turn, will use the money to repay their portion of its debt.
NORA agreed to disband in April after it became apparent there was no way to stop its mounting debt.

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