How Your Dollars Are Spent For Recycling
LABELLE, FL. -- Earth Day brought to the LaBelle soccer fields Thursday afternoon exhibits from the Florida Department of Agriculture with free oak trees, the Hendry county special districts office with free products made from recycled goods, a demonstration by Port LaBelle Utilities, and the Hendry 4-H with a goat exhibit. Just a glimpse of how Hendry tackles recycling and reuse.
Hendry county's special districts office has been a leader for many years promoting recycling in LaBelle and Clewiston. Headed by Terri Grillo-Cross, paper, plastic, glass, and metals are sold to four different companies offsetting the fees property owners pay to the county for two-time weekly trash pickup and a third special pickup in some areas for recycled goods.
Recouping some of the costs of recycling are receipts from four companies who buy Hendry's sorted trash. Highest trash prices paid to the county are for metals from CMA Recycling, paying $800 per ton for aluminum and $210 for metal. Next in line is $129 per ton for paper sold to Southeast Paper. Plastic buyer Garden Street pays $100 per ton. Garden Street also buys cardboard for $56 a ton, and newspaper at $47.50 per ton. Least profitable to the county is glass, picked up by Strategic Materials at $19 a ton.
Electronic waste is given to Creative Recycling for free.
Green colored glass can not be recycled and costs the county to dispose of. Even so, the public sends tons of green glass to recycling centers yearly. The large dumpsters around the county are brought to the recycling center where all items are sorted by hand. Bottle caps from plastic and glass bottles are all removed by hand before they are sorted and sold to recycling companies.
Green glass bottles, which typically contained bottled water, are actually worthless and are a money loser for the county. It costs much more to collect, sort and ship green glass than what they can be sold for. An over supply of green glass worldwide, and no market for anyone to sell it at a high enough price makes it unprofitable to recycle.
Not accepted for recycling are Styrofoam, plastic grocery bags, and envelopes with plastic windows. Also pottery, dishes, and other ceramic glassware are not recyclable.
Terri Cross says the costs to the county for curbside recyclable trash pickup is $2.25 a month per home. However, home owners pay $221 a year ($18.41 a month) which includes normal garbage pickups. The Special Districts department is 100% funded by special property tax assessments, and are collected by the Hendry county tax collector.
According to Cross, expenses for recyclable collection for 2007-2008 included $195,719 for five employees and support programs. $8932 was spent for repairs, electric, and fuel. No figures were provided for current costs and no figures were given for net income from sales to the recycling companies, so it cannot be determined how much money is lost each year on Hendry county's recycling programs.
Cross says, "At the direction of the BOCC, Districts has been working with our Waste Management Consultant on renewal of our hauling contracts, as well as evaluations of our current Recycle Programs. The BOCC wants to make sure our current processes are feasible and explore contracting a portion of or all of the recycling to Lee County.''
The proposal to contract with Lee, will negate the need to construct a new facility.
''We are expanding the curbside portion of the programs one area at a time until we have the entire county covered. This expansion will result in larger amounts of recyclables, which requires expansion of the facility. We have been building upon and saving capital funds in the Solid Waste Special Assessment Account for over 10 years for the new Recycle Center.
''So, the funding is in place, with no increase in assessment needed. But, before we move forward with any new construction, the BOCC wants to have a clear picture that it's what's best for the residents and tax payers of Hendry County. We hope to show that it is, especially since it has the potential to create jobs here.''