Recycling center to stop taking glass and plastic

By Jesse Moya
jmota@taosnews.com
Posted 8/22/19

"We're going to give it a six-month trial period and see how that goes," said landfill board chairman Russel Church. "In the meantime, the subcommittee is going to continue to meet to determine the future of recycling."

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Recycling center to stop taking glass and plastic

Posted

The Taos Regional Landfill Board met Thursday (Aug. 15) and voted unanimously to take on the responsibility of the Taos Recycling Center.

In a 3-2 vote, the board then voted to cease the collection of plastic and glass, effective Sept. 1.

"We're going to give it a six-month trial period and see how that goes," said landfill board chairman Russel Church. "In the meantime, the subcommittee is going to continue to meet to determine the future of recycling."

The town of Taos has been acting as the fiscal agent of the recycling center and has told the board it does not have the funding to properly maintain the center. Board member and Taos Councilman George "Fritz" Hahn gave a stern deadline of Sept. 1 for the board to consider assisting with the center, or the town would have to shut it down.

"[The town] had a drop-down deadline," Church said. "They were going to close the door on Sept. 1."

Residents in the county will still be able to use the center to recycle their cardboard, cans and paper.

The board agreed to pull $100,000 out of reserve funds to keep the center open for the next six months. During that time, the board will evaluate the center's finances and try to come up with a new plan for revenues by March 2020. "I think that it's a good move for the community," said Taos Public Works Director Fransisco Espinoza. "Now, in an indirect manner, the financial burden is being shared by the entire community. We still have a way to go before this issue is resolved."

It is not known if the board will look at imposing a recycling tax on utility bills. Currently, town residents pay 75 cents each month to support the recycling center; county residents are not charged a fee.

According to Church, the decision to stop collecting plastic and glass is temporary and the board will soon be open to hear public input on possible solutions.

Town officials have said in the past that the recycling center does not turn a profit for its goods sold. Cardboard, plastic and glass are recycled at the center but must be cleaned before depositing. According to Espinoza, entire loads of material can lose their value if contaminated with dirty recyclables.

Glass at the center is crushed and stored as there is no immediate market for recycled glass. In addition, the grinder for the glass at the center adds to the already high cost of utilities operations at the center.

"Glass has always been an issue for us as it is a product the requires a lot of handling and processing which translates to time, money and no revenue," Espinoza said. "By not processing glass we save the man hours, create space, reduce wear and tear on the machine and not sit on an inventory that is doing nothing for us."

In addition to operations costs, Hahn has brought up the cost and emissions of trucking recycled plastics to centers in the state that still accept the goods.

"Economies of scale and the increased carbon footprint caused by plastic transport make the recycling of plastic from rural areas ineffective and counterproductive," said Hahn.

Town officials have been looking for a solution to the issue of funding at the recycling center for some time and arrived at the decision to take the matter to the landfill board. Residents of Taos County often use the recycling center and do not pay toward the operations.

The next six months will determine the future of the center, according to Church.

Espinoza's department will still manage the facility while under the control of the board. He also said that aside from plastic and glass, the center will be operating as normal and community members should not expect any interruptions.

In other action, the board voted to close the Regional Landfill on Mondays starting Sept. 1 to save additional operating costs.

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