With China pulling out as a world importer of many recycled waste items, including paper and plastic bottles, the Vigo County Solid Waste District may face higher recycling costs.

That was evident Monday when the solid waste board of directors, comprised of county commissioners, Terre Haute City Councilman Don Morris and Mayor Duke Bennett, voted to approve a disposal rate of $26.40 per ton at the solid waste district’s recycling center on East Haythorne Avenue.

The county will also consider a site in West Terre Haute, if it can be located next to the West Terre Haute Police Department, or in an area that is fenced and has cameras.

“Due to the state of recycling, the service [now] will come at a cost,” Kathy Kinney, executive director of the solid waste district, told the board.

Kenneth DePasse, director of governmental relations for Republic Services, said the company continues to take single stream recycling materials from Terre Haute to its material recovery facility in Indianapolis.

“We process it and separate it and it goes wherever the end uses are,” DePasse said after the meeting. “We have to try to find someone that will take those and it is virtually impossible right now. In parts of the country, they are having to landfill recyclables. Companies want less than half a percent of contamination or the mills reject it” on recyclables such as cardboard and paper, he said.

“Mixed paper used to be $20 or more a ton — last week it was zero,” DePasse said. “What the market is telling you is, ‘We don’t need that material right now.’ So we pile it up and bale it and hope at some point somebody does want it.”

“But at some point, we may be just like on the East Coast or West Coast. They are landfilling some of that on both coasts right now.”

The service cost is “just to pay us to move it and process it so we don’t go backward even processing the stuff. We were [previously] able to offset our cost with the cost of the material, but now since the material is not worth anything, we have more in separating and baling than you can get rid of it,” DePasse said.

The Haythorne Avenue recycling center last month had one ton of recycles, but that will likely increase after Goodwill Industries stopped its recycling program, Kinney said.

DePasse said an estimate of $150 per month will allow more than five tons of recycling collection per month. “It takes a lot of single stream to make a ton. Glass is a huge contaminate for paper mills, so we will not take glass, which is most of your weight. It takes a lot paper and plastic to make 2,000 pounds,” he said.

Single-source recycling is now the standard industry, instead of separating each item. “It was kind of self-defeating. You are trying to do the right thing recycling, but the same diesel trucks running the same routes four different times instead of once,” DePasse said.

Terre Haute Mayor Bennett said the city is planning to have five to six recycling sites to offer recycling, likely starting in September.

“We talked about this about a year and a half ago, publicly said this, and now we are trying to finalize the details. We will place them at fire stations and parks. We have not made the final decision of where, but people will be able to come and put their recycling in,” Bennett said.

The sites will be spread out through the city, the mayor said, in places that can be secured, likely with a fence, “lighting and cameras to make sure people don’t just come and dump garbage,” the mayor said.

“We need to offer something to people who don’t want to pay for participation in Republic’s recycling plan and with Goodwill Industries going out of the [recycling] business, that pushes it even more. We need to give options and so we will try this. They can drive there and drop it off through the public recycling program,” the mayor said after the meeting.

The recycling is covered under the city’s contract with Republic Services, the mayor said. The city has about 1,000 people out of 23,000 households participating in a paid curb-side recycling program, the mayor said.

In other business:

• The district approved $12,891 for 200 green-colored trash bins with a solid waste district logo, partially made from recycled materials, for use in city parks. County parks already have the special-colored trash bins. The color designates the bins belong for use only in city and county parks, as park officials have reported blue-colored residential trash bins being taken out of parks.

• The district also approved the purchase of a John Deere loader for $156,524. The district is buying the loader on a rent-to-own basis, paying $5,000 per month this year, with the balance paid off in 2019, Kinney said.

The district will enter into an interlocal agreement on paying for manpower to operate the loader during either city clean-up projects or county clean up events. Operator costs, from city or county highway departments, could be about $8,000 annually in overtime pay, Kinney told the board.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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