Recycling costs burn Crawford
By John Bartlett
Article published Dec 12, 2006
MEADVILLE -- Tom Murray of Atlantic recycles faithfully.
He takes the materials at least once a week to a collection site where a number
of bins are used for glass, plastic, aluminum and other materials.
"I always thought the people who process this are making a buck," he said as he
placed magazines into the appropriately labeled bin at a collection site in
Vernon Township. "I'm surprised that they don't."
In fact, the Crawford County Solid Waste Authority, which operates the rural
recycling program, is finding it increasingly expensive to offer the recycling
It is in the middle of a study to find ways to do it cheaper.
On recycling collection and processing, the authority lost about $75,000 in
2005. The losses will likely be significantly higher this year, authority
Executive Director Etienne Ozorak said.
"2005 was a good year for recyclables," Ozorak said. "In 2006, the market dipped
and it looks like we will see about 32 percent drop of our revenues as a result.
That's the nature of recycling. The markets are up and down."
State grants and a county subsidy cover the operating losses, but that's not a
long-term solution, he said.
Crawford County's and other rural recycling programs in the state suffered a
serious financial setback when the state's courts ruled that counties to help
offset the cost of recycling programs could not charge landfill operators
administrative fees. That 2005 ruling cost the Crawford County Solid Waste
Authority about $100,000 annually, Ozorak said.
With a state grant, the authority hired Michelle Nestor, a consultant from
Butler, to take a look at the recycling program and recommend ways to improve
efficiency and cut costs, including exploring contracting for some of the work
now done directly by the authority.
The authority expects an update on Nestor's preliminary findings at its
Wednesday meeting and the full report by late January or early February, Ozorak
There are 22 rural recycling collection sites in the county.
Murray said he, like many rural residents, relies on them to recycle. It helps
cut his collection fees, keeps materials out of landfills and does the right
thing for the environment.
"We've always believed in recycling," he said.
The authority's specially equipped trucks empty the recycling collection bins
and transport the materials to the authority's processing center in the West
Mead Industrial Park. The $3.4 million facility opened in 2004 and has expanded
"I think the most substantial issue we are trying to address is how to best
operate a recycling program in a rural area," Ozorak said. "We have the large
recycling facility, the trucks and other infrastructure and the administration
of the program.
"We have to find a way to either reduce the scope of what we do or cut the
costs," he said. "We have to find a better way."
JOHN BARTLETT can be reached at (814) 724-6979, 870-1723 or by e-mail.