Council considers options for local recycling program

By Travis Gulbrandson

Members of the Vermillion City Council heard two change options for the recycling program it shares with Yankton at a special meeting May 6.

Although no action was taken, more members were in favor of an option that would have the recyclable items sorted, processed and marketed by the Vermillion Recycling Center.

As landfill manager Bob Iverson explained the option, “After everything is processed, the sorted materials will be marketed by Vermillion, and we’re thinking there’s going to be an increase of approximately 2.7 times the current (revenue).”

The other option also would have the materials brought to Vermillion, but they would be baled here and shipped to a different facility, which would then sell it.

“Right now, we sell it ourselves,” Iverson said. “If we go to this option, we ship it off to another (center), and we don’t know if we’re getting any money from them or not.”

These two options were taken from a list of four that were presented to the Joint Powers Board in March, which recommended the same option as the Vermillion council – Option 2, officially – but wanted additional feedback.

If the Vermillion Recycling Center were to move forward with Option 2, some changes would have to be made.

While both options are single-stream recycling – a system where all recyclable materials are collected in the same container – Option 2 would require more preparation.

“One is remodeling the recycling center,” Iverson said. “This has to be done probably no matter what we do, because (it) needs to be updated for air safety and remodeled just so there’s an easier flow of materials coming into the building.

“The purchase of a sort line would be around $300,000, and we would need an additional two employees for the sort line, which is around $65,000,” he said.

However, Iverson said he hopes to expand the recycling collection locations to mobile homes and larger apartment buildings.

“We won’t have any reliance on a third party to accept our materials,” he said. “We can decide what we want to do in intake. When we have good markets, the joint powers will see the benefits of this.”

Glass and certain kinds of plastic still will not be accepted, but because the Joint Powers will own the sort line, it will be easier to adjust the materials that are accepted, Iverson said.

“We can either decrease or increase the materials we’re taking by what the market tells us,” he said.

City Manager John Prescott also expressed the hope that with expanded collection locations and larger containers, more people would take part.

“In 2012, we recycled about 2.2 pounds a day, which provided about 16 days of landfill life,” he said. “If we take it up to 6.6 pounds a day, that’ll be six more days per year that would be saved in landfill life.”

The other option – Option 3 – also is single-stream but would garner less revenue, and because the Joint Powers would have less control of the materials they could get rid of.

“We’ll have an increase in materials to be marketed by going to single-stream. We’ll have an increase of $87,725 for Option 2. Option 3, you’ll have the loss revenue, so that comes in at a loss,” Iverson said.

Either way, rates would increase, with Option 2 costing $1.41 and Option 3 costing $3.30 in addition to what is already charged, Iverson said.

Although most of the council members spoke in favor of Option 2, no action was taken.

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