The Saratoga Sun -

Plastic problem

Saratoga landfill board says plastic to be bundled and buried, hears new building concerns, bids farewell to board member

 

August 8, 2018



Concerns about the Saratoga Transfer Station and the recycling of plastics were at the top of the list for the regularly scheduled meeting of the Upper Platte River Solid Waste Disposal District (UPRSWDD) at 7 p.m. on Aug. 1 at the Saratoga Town Hall. The joint powers board also addressed correspondence received from Douglas and Jennifer Duplisea and bid farewell to outgoing board member Lloyd Buford.

Richard Hodges, a Saratoga resident and collector of recyclable materials, was present at the meeting and expressed his concern over the district’s policy on plastic recycling following a trip to the facility on Monday, July 30.

“I’m concerned. I came out Monday with recycling from Lollypop’s, had nine or ten big bags of plastic to recycle, and was informed that the landfill was no longer accepting plastic to be recycled, it was to be placed in the slide-out dumpster to be buried,” said Hodges. “Is that the new policy of this landfill board, that we are no longer doing any type of plastic?”

Randy Raymer, chairman of the UPRSWDD joint powers board, informed Hodges that while the facility was still taking both glass and plastic it was not currently sending them out to formal recyclers.

“Glass is being put in the rolloff to be put in the CD (construction/demolition) pit which is allowed as a diversion and so is the bailed mixed ridges. I was under the assumption we were still bailing plastics,” said Raymer.

Ron Munson, site manager for both the Encampment and Saratoga facilities, informed Raymer that as far as he knew plastics were still being bailed. Raymer went on to explain to Hodges and others in the audience the economics of recycling.

“The value of all the recyclables is down, but when we’re able to ship something out we’re saving up to $160 a ton. If out of that $160 a ton, it’s costing us $100 a ton plus freight to get it out of here, pretty soon, it’s not saving us any money and we are allowed to divert that into the CD waste pit because it’s an inert material,” Raymer said.

According to a Jan. 1, 2018 article from Public Radio International, the majority of recycling from the United States goes to China but the country implemented a ban on 24 different types of solid waste, which includes plastic.

“China notified the World Trade Organization about the ban in July,” stated the article, “essentially saying the country would no longer act as the world’s trash dump. Currently, China consumes 55 percent of the world’s scrap paper and is a major destination for other recyclables.”

Due to the stringent policy China has put in place regarding recyclables from the rest of the world, the cost of shipping the material has risen while the price of the material has plummeted. Now, eight months after China’s “National Sword” policy was put into place, the pressure is being felt in the Valley.

“Plastic is not inert,” said Hodges. “Plastic breaks down. It never, ever goes away. Wherever it lays it contaminates the ground whether in a hole or on the surface and it goes from what we recognize to micro-size stuff that’s getting into the water, getting into the air, getting into our food.”

Hodges then went on to state that he had a phone conversation with Marty Halloway, superintendent of the Rawlins Landfill and Recycling Facility.

“Marty tells me Saratoga can bring all of its recycling at no charge because they’re in the county,” Hodges said.

The Saratoga Sun reached out to Halloway, but was unable to speak to him as of press time.

While Hogdes did not seem satisfied with the board’s answers to his concerns, he yielded the floor back to Raymer and the meeting progressed.

In other business, the UPRSWDD joint powers board confirmed the receipt of a series of letters from the Duplisea’s regarding concerns over a new building being constructed at the Saratoga Transfer Station site. The letters also requested documentation of previous fiscal years and the project manual for the Saratoga site.

The bid for the new building was awarded to Raymer Construction, Raymer abstained from discussion and a vote, after underbidding Shephard Construction by $21,000.

Finally, Buford informed the board that his term was up and this meeting was his last. He thanked the members of the board and informed the audience members of the things he had learned during his six-year term.

The next meeting of the UPRSWDD joint powers board will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 at the Encampment Branch Library.

 

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