OGDEN — Ogden’s recycling program could be coming back, maybe in January.
Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer for Ogden, said Tuesday that the Ogden Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to address an issue with Recycled Earth‘s conditional use permit at the body’s Jan. 6 meeting. An apparent violation of terms of the permit by the firm led the city to start bringing residents’ recyclables to the landfill instead of Recycled Earth last March and that practice has continued.
Any change in action, Johnson said, is on hold pending the meeting next month. But if the issue is resolved, the city is on board with resuming the recycling program. Moreover, he said, the city is willing to pay the higher fees Recycled Earth has sought to cover the increased cost of processing recyclables brought on by falling prices for the materials in the marketplace.
“That’s wonderful. That’s great news,” said David Rawson, owner of Ogden-based Recyled Earth, when advised of the city’s stance. He said the conditional use permit violation stemmed from dumping of waste outdoors in the open on the company’s grounds and that Recycled Earth has since remedied the issue.
Johnson has gotten feedback from some residents unhappy with the halt in processing of recyclables. Pending resolution of the matter, the city has asked the public to continue placing cardboard, aluminum cans and other recyclable items in their blue recycling bins. “I get their frustration,” he said.
Angela Choberka, chairperson of the Ogden City Council, is eager to see a return to recycling. “We absolutely need to resume recycling,” she said.
Rawson, for his part, warned of the environmental consequences of not recycling, of discarding reusable materials and, instead, producing replacement items anew from scratch. “There’s a lot of things we’re not taking care and the big one is Mother Earth,” he said.
The city formally stopped bringing recyclables to Recycled Earth on March 3 due to the conditional use permit violation, diverting the material to be landfilled instead. But some of the material brought to Reycled Earth before that also ended up at the landfill stemming from apparent issues over rates.
In spring 2019, Recycled Earth informed its customers, including Ogden, that it would need to increase rates for processing of recyclables given dips in the prices the materials fetch. Some Recycled Earth customers apparently bristled at the notion of paying higher rates, including Ogden. Thus, the firm continued accepting the materials at the lower rate in effect, but offered no guarantee it would be able to recycle all of it, as Rawson describes it. Accordingly, some materials were recycled, some were landfilled.
The new higher fee would allow Recycled Earth to process all recyclables brought in from Ogden, according to Rawson. He said the per-ton rate the city pays the firm would vary depending on the shifting prices that cardboard and other materials fetch. In general, though, it would probably exceed the tipping fee charged to landfill trash, $39.40 a ton, by 10%-20%.
Johnson said the city would have the funds to cover the higher price Recycled Earth seeks, at least in the near term. Beyond that, he said, the city would have to consider its options.
The City of Ogden also considered bringing recyclable materials to the Wasatch Intergrated Waste Management District facility in Layton for recycling there, Johnson said. The cost, though, would have been too much and hauling the materials the longer distance would have increased wear and tear on the city’s trash trucks.