Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

No where to go with cardboard; board to suspend recycling

 

January 16, 2020

Karla Pomeroy

Bales of cardboard are piling up in two locations at the Worland landfill with the Washakie County Solid Waste Disposal District No. 1 Board unable to ship the bales anywhere.

WORLAND – More than two years ago the Washakie County Solid Waste Disposal District No. 1 stopped accepting newspapers to recycle.

Now, with action by the district board Monday night, they will be ceasing accepting cardboard starting Jan. 31.

District Manager Mike Siegfried said, "We've been trying to figure out what to do." With newspapers and cardboard they are not producing enough volume to make it cost effective to truck it out and there is now no where to take the cardboard.

One of the issues with cardboard is that China quit accepting it. Siegfried said he has been told at numerous solid waste classes and meetings that the reason was there was too much trash in the cardboard being sent over.

The acceptable range was 16% of the cardboard bales could be trash but that hasn't been the case. For the Worland landfill they hand sort so the trash was removed before baling. But removal of the trash does take time.

He said, "We had to do something. The biggest factor is we can't get rid of it." He said cardboard once it becomes weathered and turns white is unusable as a recyclable material and ends up in the landfill. The last time he was able to ship any cardboard out was in the early spring 2019. The bales of cardboard are piling up inside a storage area and outside. They have tarped some bales outside to prevent weathering until they can be shipped.

Besides China not accepting America's cardboard anymore, he said the cardboard recycling plants are full and don't have the capacity to accept more. While more plants are being built, Siegfried noted there is already a huge backlog.

Siegfried told the board Monday night that the district averages one bale a day, which weighs about 1,100 pounds. He said the highest recyclable price they have received was $150 per ton, and that was three years ago.

He said they remove about 300 pounds of trash daily from the cardboard dumpsters they collect.

He said it takes about 12 man-hours to bale one bale of cardboard, eight hours for the recycle manager, four for helpers on the route and hand sorting.

They were traveling about 25 miles per day on the route truck, not to mention the truck wear, repair, maintenance and fuel costs. This does not count the trips to Ten Sleep to collect cardboard.

The landfill has been subsidizing the recycling for a long time," Siegfried said, noting it costs between $1,500 to $2,000 each time they truck a load of cardboard out.

Siegfried said with the board's action Monday, the last cardboard pickup will be Friday, Jan. 31. They will bale the cardboard and "hope to get it out of here."

The following week after the final pick-up, they will collect the green cardboard dumpsters around Worland.

"Living in remote places like Worland has its benefits but it also has its disadvantages [when it comes to recycling opportunities]. The saying "reduce, reuse and recycle" is ingrained in managers at all solid waste disposal meetings, Siegfried said, adding that people and communities need to focus on the reduce and reuse first.

Blair's Super Market, which bales their own cardboard has had similar struggles in recycling their cardboard. According to Tim Surat they had been able to get a small monetary return on the recycling from a company that would come and haul the bales for them but the company is now charging to haul the cardboard.

Blair's is now storing their bales but have also found a way for some bales to be reused. Ten Sleep rancher RC Carter comes and takes bales and, after breaking them down, uses them for bedding for livestock, Surat said.

The Town of Basin had started a cardboard recycling program several years ago but no longer bales or recycles cardboard.

RECYCLING EFFORTS

There are still some recycling efforts around Washakie County, albeit not cardboard. New Hope Humane Society and Worland Senior Center accept aluminum cans. They each have bins outside their facilities for drop off. They ask that the cans be bagged.

New Hope also takes plastic shopping bags and newspapers.

Pete Smet Recycling will accept aluminum cans and any other metal, steel, tin and copper. They do not accept glass, plastic or rubber.

The Renew You Recycling volunteer group in Ten Sleep continues to have monthly recycling drives.

They typically collect No. 1 and 2 plastics, paperboard (cereal boxes, facial tissue boxes), paper bags, steel and aluminum food cans, newspaper and magazines.

While not accepting cardboard, paper and newspaper for recycling, the landfill does take tree limbs free as they are able to burn them. They will also take metal free of charge, white goods (washer, dryer, refrigerator) as long as they are free of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

 
 

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