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Waste & Recycling June 03, 2020 02:05:05 AM

Wallowa County, OR Task Force Breathes New Life Into Recycling Center

Waste Advantage
ScrapMonster Contributor
To stay within budget, the county commission was considering opening the center only two days per week.

Wallowa County, OR Task Force Breathes New Life Into Recycling Center

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Nine Wallowa County citizens are riding to the rescue of Wallowa County’s troubled, financially strapped recycling center. Led by Peter Ferre and Randi Jandt, the newly-organized Wallowa County Recycling Task Force (WCRTF) has offered to help the county optimize its return on recycled materials, and also provide better signage and community education, as well as volunteers to provide help and guidance for county residents when they bring materials to recycle. “We want to help educate everyone about what can be recycled, how to separate the materials correctly, and also how to market and transport it for sales,” Ferre said.

It’s often said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But like any commodity, the value of recycled materials fluctuates. The county center stopped accepting tin cans and aluminum because their market value plummeted. Ditto for glass and for most kinds of plastics. “One of the challenges,” Ferre said, “is that in the current marketplace where counties sell materials, the prices are really low. We live in a remote place. So right now, for tin cans, it costs more to truck the bales of crushed cans to a buyer than they are worth.” Glass bottles have similar problems. “You can recycle a glass bottle ‘til the end of time,” Ferre said. “But it’s not worth anything in the market now. That means that for now, glass just isn’t recyclable. So we are working on some new, local solutions—glass can be made into road fill and other things.” Newly manufactured (virgin) plastic, he noted, is so cheap now, that the market for most recycled plastics has largely evaporated.

In a recycling market where the margin between being a saleable recyclable or just solid waste is razor-thin, the fact that well-meaning residents contribute the wrong kinds of plastics (only numbers 1 and 2 are presently marketable) and a few folks deposit both their recycling and their garbage in the recycling bins, increases operational costs, lowers prices received for materials, and adds to the financial angst of making recycling work here. To stay within budget, the county commission was considering opening the center only two days per week.

Courtesy: www.wasteadvantage.com

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