It seemed like such a simple solution. Pick up the recycling in a single-stream and pay someone to sort it out and haul it away to be recycled. It would save money in dumping fees and please residents who had asked for a recycling program for years.
But the practice of recycling has proven far more complicated and far less profitable than expected.
City manager Norman McNickle gave an overview of the City of Stillwater’s recycling program and told the trustees of the Stillwater Utilities Authority there are no cheap, easy options.
Stillwater’s location at least an hour away from the nearest multi re-use facility or MRF, which means hauling multiple loads a day is expensive and increases the city’s carbon footprint, he said.
Local processing has proved challenging as residents mixed trash and other materials that can’t be recycled in their single-stream containers.
This created problems for Cedar Creek Farms LLC, the company that sorts the items.
The bottom fell out of the markets for most materials and Cedar Creek, owned by Henry Wells of HEW Waste Management, allowed them to stack up as the company waited for prices to rise.
It created problems with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality that Cedar Creek needed help dealing with.
A solution has been found and the City of Stillwater has helped Cedar Creek Farms clean up its facility. In spite of threatening to quit taking single-stream residential recycling effective Sept. 30, Cedar Creek Farms will continue to process Stillwater’s recycling. The City has agreed to step up user education and enforcement.
It will also conduct weekly audits to see how much trash is making its way into the recycling stream and to ensure materials don’t pile up again.
McNickle said other options started at $1.1 million and went up from there. Monthly rates, which are currently $4.68 would also have to be increased with other options.
He asked the City Council, acting as trustees of the Stillwater Utilities Authority, to create a committee of citizens to look at the city’s recycling program and examine options.
The council agreed to create a 12-person board. Applications are available on the City’s website at stillwater.org and should be submitted within the next couple of weeks.