OGDEN — Ogden officials are weighing their alternatives, even an end to the city’s arrangement with Recycled Earth, as they chart the future of recycling in the city.
Whatever the end result, though, the aim is to maintain some sort of program to recycle plastic, paper and other reusable items in the city’s waste stream. Since last March, recyclables that Ogden residents put in their blue recycling bins have been hauled to the landfill, not to Recycled Earth, stemming from a lingering permitting dispute. At the same time, Recycled Earth has been seeking a hike in the fee the city pays it to handle recyclables to cover rising costs.
“We want to resume recycling as soon as we can get a program set up that can accept it and is a viable solution,” Jay Lowder, public services director for the city, told the Ogden City Council at a recent work session.
What’s more, sorting things out with Recycled Earth would be the preferred solution. “We’ve always considered that our most viable option. That’s why we have continued to try to negotiate with Recycled Earth,” Lowder said.
David Rawson, owner of Ogden-based Recycled Earth, said Thursday that he had submitted a proposal last month to the city calling for an increase in the rate Ogden pays the firm to process recyclables, from $39.40 per ton of material to around $54. He hasn’t yet gotten any sort of formal response.
Meantime, Mark Johnson, the chief administrative officer for Ogden, said the city is OK paying the higher rate, which could eventually be passed on to the public in the form of a higher trash-collection fee. “We’re willing to pay that rate each month,” he said Thursday.
The sticking point to resumption of recycling is sorting through the separate issue over Recycled Earth’s conditional use permit. The dispute, according to the city, stems in part from the unloading of recyclables outdoors at the Recycled Earth facility, not indoors, an apparent permit violation.
News that Ogden recyclables have been going to the landfill, not to Recycled Earth for processing and reuse, came to public light in July, irking and surprising many who back recycling. The city is still asking the public to place recyclables in blue bins meant for aluminum cans and other items that can be reused as the sides work toward a resolution.
Indeed, even Lowder offered strong words of support for recycling when city officials discussed the matter at an Aug. 25 work session. “This is one of the programs we’re all on the same page with. We all think it’s valuable. We all think it’s worthwhile. We think it’s the right thing to do for our planet. We’re going to try to resolve the issue as soon as we possibly can,” he said.
Even so, with the dispute with Recycled Earth still unresolved, Lowder offered city officials alternatives to Recycled Earth should the two sides be unable to reach middle ground. The most viable would entail bringing recyclables to the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District recycling facility in Layton. The downside to that plan, though, would be the cost of transporting materials there and the resulting wear-and-tear on the city’s fleet of aging trash trucks, at least until they’re replaced starting around November.
The increased yearly cost to the city of paying Recycled Earth a higher fee for recycling would be an estimated $91,675, according to Lowder, from around $131,890 to $223,565. The city would likely have the resources to cover that in the coming year, according to Johnson. After that, though, covering the cost could require a hike of perhaps $1.25 a month in the trash hauling fee customers pay.
The proposed $54 per ton processing fee for recyclables is the same that other municipal customers in Weber County pay, according to Rawson. At the $39.40 per ton fee, Recycled Earth can’t guarantee it will process the recyclables it collects given rising recycling costs and shifts in the fluctuating market.