Plummeting cardboard demand discussed at waste disposal district meeting
February 13, 2019
The regular meeting of the Upper Platte River Solid Waste Disposal District (UPRSWDD) at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 saw some serious discussion as the board heard from Saratoga Town Council member Steve Wilcoxson and discussed the future of cardboard recycling in the Valley. Much of the meeting, in fact, centered on disagreement between UPRSWDD Board Chairman Randy Raymer and board member Sue Jones in regards to how local businesses should be handling their cardboard.
Near the start of the meeting, Raymer gave the board an update on the plummeting prices of baled cardboard. While Interwest Paper Inc. is not a company that the UPRSWDD goes through for recycling, it does provide the district with monthly updates on prices and costs of recycling. In August, baled Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC) sat at $25 a ton and rose to $40 a ton in November. That price, however, fell to $10 a ton in the beginning of January and then to $5 a ton in the middle of January.
The sinking price of baled OCC, Raymer told the board and the public, was another indication of the effects of China’s “National Sword” policy. As was reported previously (see “Plastic Problem” on page 6 of the Aug. 8, 2018 Saratoga Sun), China, which previously took over 50 percent of the world’s recycling, began refusing recycling in January 2018 if it did not meet the standards set by the new policy. That policy finally hit the Valley in August 2018 when the landfill in Saratoga began placing plastic and glass in the construction/demolition (CD) pit due to the cost of recycling.
Cardboard, again, came up for discussion later in the meeting when Jones informed the board of a conversation she had with Danny Burau, owner of Firewater Public House.
“Danny Burau at Firewater asked me if there was something else you can do with that cardboard at the dollar store (Family Dollar),” Jones said to Ron Munson, owner of Evergreen Disposal.
Munson, along with owning one of the two garbage hauling companies in the Valley, holds a contract with the UPRSWDD to manage the landfill sites in both Saratoga and Encampment. Family Dollar currently goes through Evergreen Disposal to dispose of garbage and cardboard, the cardboard removal being a service he provides as added customer service.
“There’s nothing. I pick it up. What do they want me to do?” asked Munson.
Jones added that Burau had informed her he had previously spoke with the Town of Saratoga about ordinance violations and was unsure of who to talk to at Family Dollar that could make a decision.
“There’s cardboard in his yard and it’s pretty good sized,” said Jones. “I don’t know what we can do with it, but it’s not working. It’s just not working, in my opinion, the way they’re doing it. It’s not easy for you (Munson), you’re really losing a lot to load that up by hand on a trailer and take it out. It’s not worth it money wise and I don’t blame Danny. That’s a big ol’ pile of cardboard that’s in his yard.”
Jones then suggested that the UPRSWDD look into increasing the landfill fees for businesses that are not properly handling their cardboard and used Family Dollar as an example. According to Jones, she felt that charging the extra amount would make-up for the reduced price in baled OCC.
Raymer, however, disagreed with Jones and stated that he felt that it was the duty of the garbage haulers and not the solid waste district to implement that added charge. Further discussion among the board saw Schelby Merrill bring up proper education of recycling, which Raymer insisted was not the obligation of the UPRSWDD. Merrill stated, later in the discussion, that she was more than willing to have conversations with businesses to see what was preventing them from proper disposal of their cardboard.
When asked by the Sun what the possibility would be of renting out cardboard receptacles to businesses that contracted with either garbage hauler, Jones stated that the issue was that neither company had a clean truck in which to place the cardboard. She added that dumping a 20-yard load of cardboard, which is the size of the trucks used by both companies, would be an overload to the transfer station operator.
As discussion continued, it was generally agreed upon that there wasn’t a current solution that wasn’t either cost prohibitive or labor prohibitive.
The other discussion that took place was in regards to the dumpsters currently placed at Veterans Island and the Hobo Pool. As was reported previously (see “Cardboard and dumpsters” on page 2 of the March 14, 2018 Saratoga Sun and “Talking trash again” on page 3 of the May 9, 2018 Saratoga Sun), Raymer had informed the board he had observed individuals using the dumpsters placed at the two locations to dispose of their household waste as opposed to taking it to the landfill.
The UPRSWDD sent a letter to the Town of Saratoga in June and again in January. Wilcoxson, representing the Saratoga Town Council, was in attendance at the most recent meeting.
“Did you get the copy of the letter I sent you?” asked Raymer.
“We sure did and we read it last night. There was quite a bit of discussion. The council would like to invite you back to try and get your input. That’s what they asked me to do. If you would have been there to elaborate, there were some questions. Some of them, most of them, I thought of Mr. Chairman. One of the problems that we’re going to be facing, as a council, is that this is money that we put out and these are public dumpsters and so it’s going to be real hard to try and regulate that,” replied Wilcoxson.
Back and forth between Raymer and Wilcoxson had the town councilmember inform the board that the council was still discussing how to approach the issue. Wilcoxson told the board that, while the issue was one that they were willing to look at, it was not high on their list of priorities. According to the town councilmember, the town’s attorney, Tom Thompson, will look at how, and if, the Town of Saratoga can enforce use of the dumpsters.
The next meeting of the UPRSWDD will be at 7 p.m. on March 6 at the Riverside Town Hall.