by SUMMER HAMPTON
Commissioners Champion and Holcomb pulled a contract with Friends Recycling (for an annual amount of $193,000.00 with a 3-year term) from the purchasing and contracts consent agenda on June 22, 2021. The contract, based on 4300 tons of recycled products annually, was ultimately approved 4-1.
The recycling processing fee under their current contract with Alachua County will be increasing in October, due to minimum wage increases, so they are seeking alternatives. Currently Republic Services picks up recycling, the product is transferred to trucks and hauled to Alachua County for processing.
Champion voiced concerns pertaining to costs of the recycling contract, the wear and tear of their trucks on the roads, paying processing fees, and market for materials. He remarked that half of the time there is no market for recyclable materials. Champion proposed looking around for a better contract, because if the product is valuable then the processor should be making money from it and not charge the county to take away the materials. The bid from Friends Recycling charges a $41 per ton processing fee for Hernando County recyclables.
Solid Waste department staff found the market value for processing materials to be around $100 per ton. The competing bid from Recycling Service of Florida had a processing fee of around $124,000 per ton and a 40/60 split in revenue with the county from the sale of the recycling product.
From the county’s perspective, while their recycling product does hold value due to their dual-stream process and 10% contamination rate, the bid from Friends Recycling protects them from the highly volatile nature of the recycling market.
Champion asserted that both solutions are not true recycling because you’re burning fuel, tearing up the roads, wasting other resources, and paying double to get rid of it. The current price to bring trash to the landfill is $18 a ton. He questioned why they couldn’t just put it in the landfill.
County Attorney Garth Coller did remark that language exists in state statutes to require counties to maintain a recycling program.
Jerry Loranco, representative for Friends Recycling, stated he bid the processing fee at $41 because he knows the volatility of the market, and what the county is doing now is hauling the recycling to Alachua County. Friends Recycling is about an hour closer to Hernando County.
Loranco stated that 60 percent of the recycling the county produces is valuable. With Friends Recycling, the county will have to man the landfill facility to receive the material from Republic Recycling, then transfer the product to trucks and haul it up to Ocala.
Commissioner Champion also asked about processing the recycling in-house. It was discussed that startup costs would be around $10 million to process the recycling in-house. It could be a long-term plan for the county to process recycling in-house but for now, they will use Friends Recycling because of volatility in the market.