The Saratoga Sun -

Chinese economy affects possible trash rate hike

 


The sinking economy in China may mean that waste disposal rates here in the Good Times Valley might be going up soon, according to the Upper Platte River Solid Waste District (Landfill Board).

The construction of a transfer station intended to ship solid waste for disposal to other areas will reduce strain at the landfill, but the collapse of China’s economy may mean that the Landfill Board will have to pay to have trash and recyclables hauled away.

Before its current economic woes started, China was the largest purchaser of recyclable waste material from the United States. But today, the Chinese economy is in a slump, the country is buying less U.S. garbage, and prices for commodities such as scrap metal are in the tank, with the price for the commodity down 66 percent since it peaked in July, 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Between January 2015 and January 2016, scrap metal prices decreased 42 pecent, according to the Fed’s figures.

For municipalities and bodies such as the Landfill Board, this means they may have to pay to have recyclable trash hauled away rather than recyclers paying them for trash that is shipped to China to be recycled. This can lead to a situation where revenues fall and costs increase, with those costs ultimately borne by the consumers.

Between the added costs of having materials hauled away and the expense of constructing the transfer station, the Landfill board may be looking at significant cost increases.

“We have enough money to build the transfer station, but we don’t have enough to close the landfill,” said Randy Raymer of the Landfill Board. “We may have to revisit our rate schedule.”

Raymer said it is possible that some types of trash would see disposal rates increase faster than others, such as household trash, he said, adding that the board may have to increase the charges for steel disposal two or three times

Electronics, cardboard and other recyclable materials that the board was disposing of for free or at profit before are no longer paying, the board said.

The board also was searching for ways to make recycling easier, especially for those who cannot go out to the landfill to dispose of their trash. Those options themselves can be fraught with problems. Public dumpsters are convenient, but often are abused by some who overstuff them creating a hazard and additional costs.

Another idea under consideration was a trailer in town where residents can take recycling without having to go out to the landfill.

Recycling was also the main topic when the board was discussing Brush Creek Ranch. The previous day, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in Rawlins granted a conditional use permit to the ranch with certain conditions. One of the conditions was that the Ranch meet with the Landfill Board to come up with a plan to deal with the large amounts of solid waste and recyclables generated by the ranch.

The next meeting of the Landfill Board will be 7 p.m., May 4, at the Encampment Library.

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