In Jan. 15 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Despite recyclables selling for less in the unstable economy, Russell County has continued to sell items to a Lexington-based recovered paper processing and distribution facility, albeit at a reduced price, according to Judge-Executive Mickey Garner.
"We're not having problems (with items piling up)," he said. "We've stuck with the same company we started with and I guess by having a native from Russell County working there in Barry Prater, he's been good to move our stuff."
Prater is an account representative with Central Kentucky Fiber Resources, where the county sells the products to be recycled.
Late last year, Prater said Russell County, per capita diversion, sends more to the facility to be recycled than most communities in the state that his company deals with.
"Some counties do have that problem," Garner said. He said Prater had told him that those counties where a lot of recyclables were not being collected were ones which had moved from company to company.
"They're not obligated to get rid of their products if they've jumped around," Garner said.
The county judge-executive did say it was no secret that the prices of products had recently dropped significantly but that the county hadn't made any adjustments, yet.
"It is just like cattle, or anything else, if you get in it you've got to stay with it," he said. "We're not out of a big expense over at the recycling center because we're actually using four guys that are inmates and that helps our expenses."
He said there were three to four full-time employees at the center as well with no layoffs forecast.
Garner said metal, aluminum and cardboard prices had all fallen.
"We're not having trouble moving it," he said. "We're just not getting as much for it."
Garner said cardboard and metal had, in the past six months, fallen to $100 a ton while aluminum is now selling for 35 cents compared to an earlier high of 90 cents.
"Everything has probably gone down to around that price, $75 to $100 per ton," he said. Garner said that did have an impact on the money the county received back from the Lexington recycling facility.
"All the prices have dropped," Garner said. "You've still got to keep at it."
Garner said Prater advised him that prices could rise again in around six months, but he made no guarantees.
Solid Waste Coordinator H.M. Bottom said the center was seeing an increase in metal being brought in as the price of it has fallen and people are not taking it to area scrap buying facilities and instead are choosing to recycle it locally. Garner said that this was free of charge.
"You just hope for the best," he said. Garner said the county was still averaging and sending five or six tractor-trailer loads a month to Lexington.
He said the number of people recycling in the county had remained the same despite the economy and that he anticipated a jump in that number as the new year grows older.
Bottom said the official 2008 figures hadn't been sent back to him by state officials, but that he expected the money the county received back into the general fund from recycling to be more than double of what it was one year ago.
He said state officials were impressed by the large number of recyclables gathered over the past year by such a rural community, thanks in part to the school recycling programs such as PRIDE which has hundreds of Russell County students involved.
Bottom said he envisioned many people using the three mobile recycling trailers that were recently set out in the county by the recycling center.
"We just set them out last week, so hopefully they'll do good," Judge Garner said. "We've had a lot of people calling and asking when we were going to set them out."
The mobile recycling trailers have been set up at Lake Country Outdoors BP in Middletown, in front of Pizza Hut in the Key Village Shopping Center in Russell Springs and one next to Lee's Famous Recipe in Jamestown, according to Garner. All items placed in the trailers must be placed in plastic garbage bags, he said.
Bottom said the trailers would also help to further reduce the county's illegal dump sites.
To their own amazement, recycling center workers "Blackie" Meadows and David Vincent emptied the Jamestown trailer early this week, which had taken only four days to fill.
"Hopefully with our next grant, we'll be able to put in for two or three more of them so we can set them out in the county," Bottom said. "We're also in need of another baler (for the recycling center)."
The judge said he had also recently had a request for one of the mobile trailers around the Wolf Creek Dam area.
"If any organization wants to purchase (a trailer), they can do so," he said. "We will come and empty them but they are fairly expensive, around $9,000."
Also, Garner said the county had recently reached a deal with the Save-a-Lot grocery store in Liberty and was now receiving their recyclables.
The Russell County Recycling Center takes items such as food cans, soda bottles, milk jugs, glass, magazines, newspaper, junk mail, plastics, all types pf appliances, metal roofing, computers, cell phones and many other electronics. The facility, though, cannot take Styrofoam, tires or plastic grocery bags.