Picking up recyclables isn't cheap: City inks new contract for more than $400,000 this year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Recycling in Salisbury is costly.
The city pays more than $400,000 a year for the pickup of recyclables, bills residents for the service and sees nothing back from the sale of the materials.
“We’ve never seen the first check,” Purchasing Manager Dewey Peck said.
Only 32 percent of Salisbury’s residents participate in recycling, according to a recent city study.
About the only good thing from a cost standpoint is that Salisbury’s efforts at recycling may help in extending the life of the Rowan County landfill by keeping out materials that would otherwise be buried there.
On Tuesday, Salisbury City Council approved a three-year contract extension with BFI Waste Services, the firm that collects recyclables in the city.
The contract will pay the company $407,835 a year. The same firm has picked up Salisbury’s recyclables since 1995, Peck said.
Under the contract, recyclable materials include glass, cans, newspaper, plastic and cardboard.
Residents place their materials for recycling in the familiar 18-gallon blue bins for once-a-week pickup at the curb.
The recycling fee for residents is $3.14 a month, whether they recycle or not, and the charge appears on water-sewer bills, along with a residential landfill fee of $3.93 per green garbage container.
City Manager David Treme noted that most markets for recycled materials are tough and not worth the cost of picking them up.
“Some communities have discontinued recycling,” he said.
Peck said the contract extension approved Tuesday provides for price adjustments based on the annual Consumer Price Index, as well as increases or decreases based on the actual number of containers picked up.
The estimated number of residential units with recycling bins at the start of this new contract is 11,967.
The contract’s price is $2.84 per residential unit per month.