Officials expect to have plan by end of the year
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) recently notified Elmore County officials ADOC is ending its recycling efforts in the county.
According to ADOC, deferred maintenance costs, changes to internal business practices and structural issues with the facility used to process materials are the reasons why the program is ending.
This notice brings to an end to the partnership that has spanned nearly 10 years.
“In March ADOC gave us the heads up that they were having issues running the program,” county chief engineer and operations officer Richie Beyer said.
The county has suspended the recycling program because of the fact there are currently no options to retrieve the materials from the bins.
Elmore County invested in nearly 50 8-cubic-yard recycling bins purchased with a grant provided by Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Those bins were located throughout the county and citizens could place their comingled recyclable materials in the bins 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In return, ADOC unloaded the bins, took the material to Draper Correctional Facility located in Elmore where inmates sorted the material and ADOC then sold the sorted materials to fund the program.
“Right now, we are looking for alternative ways to offer a recycling program,” Beyer said. “We’ve had discussions with municipalities and Autauga County.”
According to ADEM, Alabama’s recycling rate is around 16% which is less than half the nationwide recycle rate of 34%.
“The county is collecting the bins and storing those right now,” Beyer said. “We are looking at what else we can do to make the county recycling program better.”
The issue of what to do with recyclable materials is a nationwide issue.
WasteDive, a waste management website, has kept a timeline of how a Chinese recycling ban is affecting the United States. The timeline and associated report shows every state has been affected. Some cities have put an end to curbside recycling while other cities collect and incinerate the materials.
In most cases, local governments are responsible for running recycling programs. The practice can add profits to these budgets when commodity prices are high for materials. If market costs dip — like when China scaled back its program — recycling has the potential to become expensive.
“I know people in the county liked the program,” Beyer said. “We expect to have a plan in place by the end of the year.”