Recycling future here looks bright

While it’s still taking a while for the number of “Blue Box” pickups to return to normal, it looks like the price is right for the town to continue its recycling partnership with Koochiching County Environmental Services Division across the river.
Operations and Facilities manager Pat Hickerson said a deal with the recycling service could cost as little as $15 per capita—$2 less than what the town was paying with the Northwestern Ontario Recycle Association, at which time it also was incurring debt.
“They’ve come back to us with a cost—$86,000 a year based on what we’re picking up and how we’re picking it up,” noted Hickerson. “If we were picking up the amount we were picking up with NORA, it would cost $122,000.”
The per capita cost also would cover the price of a new recycling truck as the town only purchased a used truck for the purpose of the current trial period, which began July 22.
“The negotiations are going well. They’re going to go back to their board and then get back to me,” noted Hickerson. “If everything goes well, we’ll continue on the [‘Blue Box’ pickup] schedule we’ve been following.”
The negotiated contract will be for a five-year period of service.
The amount of materials being picked up has seen a slow but steady increase since the old service folded under NORA.
The average weekly delivered weight of materials has been 2.98 tonnes (6,560 pounds), taking about five hours to process. This costs about $802 per week.
But Hickerson stressed most the materials are being recycled, unlike the former service which often saw worthless materials like box board and certain plastics dumped into landfills.
This brings in a revenue of $297 per week, with an average of 2.57 tonnes (5,657 pounds) of paper products and .137 tonnes (303 pounds) being sold off each load, leaving the total processing cost at $505 per week.
Coun. Sharon Tibbs noted the public should be reminded “there’s waste and there’s recyclables,” and to follow the town’s revised list of acceptable recyclables.
Hickerson said the public education campaign the town undertook has been working, adding the “rejection” stickers that are placed on “Blue Boxes” with unacceptable materials has dwindled from 20-25 a day to usually none.
Coun. Deane Cunningham asked if apartment buildings will see recycling pickups down the road.
Hickerson responded that it’s possible, but difficult, since using bins for multiple apartment dwellers could lead to materials not being sorted and being unclean, which affects their recycling value.
Near the end of the now-defunct NORA’s existence, members were facing possible per capita rates as high as $23.
When the group decided to go out to tender to get a contractor to take care of recyclable pickup and transport, that figure jumped to a whopping $30.