City takes first steps to address recycling program costs (copy)

Recycled refuse moves along a “walking floor” as it makes its way onto a semi truck from the Cochise County Solid Waste Station in Sierra Vista last year. The county will begin charging for recyclable drop-offs starting Sept. 12.

BISBEE — Soon, Cochise County will being charging for its recycling service, as the county continues looking for options to salvage the program.

According to a press release from Amanda Baillie, county public information officer, “Due to significant changes in market conditions many recyclables are no longer being purchased by vendors and the county’s free recycling program is no longer financially sustainable.”

The county Board of Supervisors and staff have struggled for months with the problem and what to do as markets have dried up. They have discussed the situation at length in work sessions.

Marty Haverty, county public works director, said the Rate Review Board, representatives of municipalities where transfer stations are located, “had no qualms” about ending the free service. In order to make ends meet in a failing recycle market, it is necessary to charge for the drop off of those materials just like household trash.

“Unfortunately, market conditions and the cost of transporting and processing materials has resulted in the county and the users of the solid waste system having to subsidize the recycling program,” Haverty said. “In the long run, this will not be sustainable, with costs likely to continue to rise.”

So, starting Sept. 12, anyone dropping recyclables off at the western landfill or at any of the transfer stations located around the county will have recyclables added to the tipping fees for dropping off household garbage.

Anyone who drops recyclables at a rural transfer station in Double Adobe, Dragoon, Elfrida, Portal, San Simon, St. David, Sunizona, Sunsites and Tombstone, will be charged a fixed fee, depending on the size of load.

Those rates are $2 per bag (33 gallon or less); $4 per load for vans, cars or station wagons, $7 for pickup trucks and single axel trailers; $3 per 55-gallon containers; and $6.40 per cubic yard for loads over two cubic yards in volume.

Residents who drop-off at an urban transfer station in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Willcox and the Western Regional Landfill will be charged $64 per ton.

“The average resident will pay just a few dollars, based on what we currently see brought into our transfer stations,” Haverty said. “We will continue to monitor market conditions and, in the meantime, we will continue to aggressively recycle as many materials as we can.”

In an online post, the City of Sierra Vista confirmed it will continue offering free drop-offs.

“Although the county will begin charging for recyclable materials dropped off at county transfer stations, the Sierra Vista Recycling Center is still accepting steel and aluminum cans, glass, plastics #1 and #2, and corrugated cardboard at no charge,” the post said.

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