Recycling costs continue to rise
By Jenn Watt
The landscape for recyclables is changing, with costs likely to go up for municipalities. On Thursday, Aug. 8, members of Dysart et al’s environment and climate change committee heard from two companies that handle local recycling about the pressures they’re facing.
Ludwig Biliko, plant manager for Waste Connections, discussed the “huge changes” for the industry including declining values for their materials.
The committee had previously received a letter from Waste Connections of Canada’s district manager, which reads: “Many end markets have changed and commodity values remain depressed and highly variable even from week to week. Finding positive revenue markets for the commodities we sell, is requiring a greater level of processing to ensure that the materials we market will meet the ever increasing quality requirements.”
The letter goes on to say more labour is needed in order to ensure this quality. Substantial fee increases were outlined, however, because Dysart has a contract with Waste Connections, the municipality’s costs will not be going up. (Current rates are $40 per tonne for mixed fibres, $35 per tonne for commingled containers, and nothing for old corrugated cardboard.)
Biliko explained that much care needs to be taken to ensure the materials they ship out are clean, which means removing the wet and dirty paper and dirty plastic.
Councillor John Smith, who chairs the environment committee, said other companies that competed with Waste Connections for the municipality’s business might think it was unfair that prices are being proposed above those negotiated.
“I can’t see how we can now modify the rates for a contract we both agreed to,” he said, previously noting that contract was recently negotiated at the end of 2018.
Biliko said he recognized the contract would not be changing. Smith confirmed to the Echo following the meeting that the contract expires at the end of December with another RFP being issued this fall with a new term beginning in 2020.
The meeting also included a delegation from Jim and Dan Garbutt of Garbutt Disposal, who told council new costs would need to be charged on cardboard they pick up in the Municipality of Dysart et al and take to their Lochlin facility.
Jim Garbutt said the company has been in business for 50 years and “Never have we been [in] such a pickle as we are now with recycling.”
He said they’re losing money on paper and cardboard and want to introduce a $100 per tonne charge for cardboard. They’ve decided they’re no longer handling paper.
Part of the problem is poor sorting, Garbutt said.
“It doesn’t matter ... how you emphasize that it’s got to be clean and everything, we were getting a tremendous amount of garbage mixed in with cardboard. And of course we’re having to sort all that, and that was all time-consuming and that’s where our losses were coming,” he said.
“[There’s] probably between two and two-and-a-half tonnes a week of cardboard that we take in to our facility,” he said of the materials picked up from businesses in Dysart et al. “I guess what our bottom line is ... either we will start charging to take Dysart’s cardboard there, or the only other alternative is, if it’s Dysart’s cardboard, the landfill will find us a place [where] we can dump our load and they can transport it themselves to Waste Connections.”
Garbutt said he had suggested to Minden Hills that they buy the Lochlin facility.
“We’ve got to make money, but if the municipality can break even on something, especially not knowing now what your processing fees are going to go to … maybe Dysart and Minden should think about talking together and then they can process even the paper and everything here.”
He said his company would be assessing the situation in October, seeing what impact the processing fee had.
Smith said the committee was already planning to have discussions with the business community about the garbage and recycling they create. “We’re going to be consulting with some of the local businesses, inviting them in and having discussions about what can be done with their waste,” he said.
Councillor Larry Clarke said he wanted to make sure the burden of handling businesses’ cardboard did not fall onto the backs of taxpayers and suggested creating rules for businesses in the bylaw.
Smith asked Garbutt to put together a proposal on costs and bring it back to the committee, which will talk it over and make a recommendation to Dysart et al council.