Recycling program fees increase after facility closes doors

Jun 13, 2018

After the unexpected closure of a processing facility, Dartmouth residents participating in the town’s recycling program will see a $10 increase in yearly fees.

On May 9, DPW Director David Hickox was notified by WeCare Organics LLC officials that the company would be closing. It had been collecting and disposing of the town’s recyclable products. Two days later, WeCare shut its doors.

Wes Gregory, a board member and officer at the New York-based company, said it had to shut down due to an overflow.

“We had to discontinue service because our building was too full and our building was too small,” Gregory said.

He noted the company is looking to relocate to another building in the Taunton area, if possible.

On May 14, the trucks were back out, this time heading to Brockton for drop-off under Republic Services.

However, the extra time spent on the road by workers, the price of gas, and higher expenses to get rid of the materials led the DPW to ask for $25,000 from its emergency fund at its June 7 meeting to cover remaining costs for the year. The fund is used for unforeseen expenses.

It also means an increase from $80 to $90 per year for the more than 10,000 residents in the program starting July 1.

All of this comes after China halted the importation of recyclables from the United States in January.

“Their reasoning was that the material had a high percentage of contaminants with the recyclable materials and so they just banned it,” Hickox said. “So Dartmouth, like many other communities, are seeing these unforeseen increases in processing the material.”

The result was an increase in price to process the materials, from $15 a ton to $62.40 for the almost 50 tons the department delivers per week.

In total, it’s a $130,000 increase to the budget from last year, according to Hickox. Gregory said people have to keep in mind what it costs the facility to dispose of their material as well, adding the items aren’t the same quality anymore.

“The most important thing to basically understand is the commodity changed from a commodity to a waste because, not only was the paper and glass almost impossible to feed the facility, we were having to pay $45 a ton to get rid of it,” Gregory said. “Once you start paying for something, it’s not a commodity anymore, it’s a waste.”

He said the overall effects are being felt as far as Buffalo, New York.

As for whether Dartmouth will stay with Republic Service, no contract has been signed as of right now.

“At this point I won’t say we’re negotiating, but we’re evaluating the quality of our product so we’re going to give it some time for them to evaluate that and then hopefully the number will come down, but we don’t know,” Hickox said. “Before we sign any type of agreement for the year we’re still assessing the quality of our product because they’re not familiar with what we’re bringing in.”