OGDEN — After a 10-month hiatus, Ogden’s recycling program has been reinstated.
That means the cardboard, aluminum and other recyclables that Ogden trash customers put in their blue bins will now be processed so they can be reused. They had been going to the landfill.
“Recycling has always been a top priority for our administration, and we’re excited to bring that service back to our city,” Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said in a statement. Suspension of the recycling program has been a simmering issue, angering some, but a fix had been expected.
The city quietly suspended the recycling program on March 3 last year because the recycler, Recycled Earth, wasn’t complying with all the terms of its operational permit. City officials and the company reached a temporary fix to the issue on Wednesday, leading to the announcement Thursday of the program’s resumption, effective immediately. “I think they’re showing that they’re more committed to recycling,” said David Rawson, operator of Recycled Earth, based in Ogden.
News that Ogden’s recycling program had been suspended publicly emerged last July when the Standard-Examiner reported on the issue. But officials never pulled the blue bins and, in fact, after news of the program’s suspension came to light, city officials instructed the public to keep placing recyclables in the blue bins, though the material was going to the landfill.
Now that the materials will actually be going to Recycled Earth, officials are reminding the public to place only recyclables like aluminum cans, cardboard, paper and No. 1 and No. 2 plastics in the blue bins. Trash to be landfilled is supposed to be placed only in green bins, but some have been placing garbage in the blue bins as well since the recycling program’s suspension, according to Vincent Ramos, manager of the city’s Public Services Department.
The City of Ogden suspended the recycling program, halting delivery of materials to Reycled Earth, because the firm was violating its conditional use permit with the city by dumping materials outside. “Outdoor dumping had previously led to significant problems for neighboring properties, including odors, blowing debris and attraction of seagulls,” said the city’s statement.
Per the fix approved Wednesday by the Ogden City Planning Commission, Recycled Earth, located at 3027 Midland Drive, has until Sept. 30 to resolve the violations with its permit. It must pave certain access areas at its facility to prevent dust caused by truck traffic and it has to enclose certain areas where the materials it takes in are stored. Recycled Earth seeks a permit from the city of Ogden to operate its facility as a transfer station for garbage destined to be landfilled, and if it gets it, that, too, could resolve the issue.
“We have heard input from many of our residents and wholeheartedly agree that offering this curbside recycling service is the responsible choice for our environment, and we hope to continue offering this service to residents for many years to come. We appreciate the community’s patience as we worked through some difficult marketplace and legal issues,” Caldwell said.
Thursday’s news isn’t good only for supporters of recycling and the city’s recycling program. It also means Recycled Earth employees will get more work. “My guys are all excited today. Now we’re going to have more hours for the guys to work,” said Rawson.
But resumption of the program will also likely result in additional expenses for the city. Fees the city pays Recycled Earth to take recyclables will now be based on a formula that factors the fluctuating market value of aluminum, cardboard and other recyclables. The city had been paying a flat rate of $39.40 per ton of recyclables collected, according to Ramos. The rate as of January based on the new formula was $50.08 per ton, though the rate change hadn’t yet gone in effect for Ogden.
Ramos said the city should be able to cover the increased cost of recycling without hiking the fees trash customers pay, at least for now.