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Pa. recycling center loses its biggest customer

March 31, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA. - Last year, Washington Township's recycling center processed 4,200 tons of newsprint, cans, glass and plastic bottles, and cardboard that brought in $65,000 more than it cost to run the facility.

That won't happen this year.

Earlier this month, Waste Management told township officials the company would no longer take its recycled materials to the center.

Waste Management, which picks up curbside materials to be recycled in several Franklin County communities, brought in about 80 percent of the material dropped off at the center, Township Manager Michael Christopher said Tuesday.

Before the Waste Management decision, the center operated with 15 part-time employees, about half of whom will be laid off, Christopher said. Those on the layoff list have been given notices, he said.

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"This has changed the way we do business," he said.

Hours at the facility have been cut to two days a week, but it is still open until 7 p.m. to accommodate residents, he said.

Waste Management workers separated the glass, metal and plastic containers from the newsprint and cardboard at the curbside before throwing them into the trucks for their trip to the recycling center, a process called co-mingling, Christopher said.

Now the company dumps everything together into its trucks and hauls it to its Mountain View Reclamation landfill in Upton, Pa., where the materials are processed before being taken to a recycling center in York, Pa., Christopher said.

He said he hopes to tour the Upton operation to see how it works and to see if any of the methods of operation there can be applied to the Washington Township center.

Christopher said the layoffs should keep the center operating in the black.

"Our biggest expense was salaries," he said.

The center's part-time workers earned from $6.90 to $7.50 an hour.

It has a 200-ton capacity, with a lot less of it being used now that Waste Management has pulled out. Christopher is trying to recruit other recycling companies in the region.

Any resident or company from any state can drop off recyclables free of charge at the center. It has won awards for recycling up to 96 percent of all the material it takes in, Christopher said.

Earlier this month, Washington Township learned it was getting a $292,000 state grant to build a storage building to hold separated and baled recyclables waiting for shipment to recyclers.

Christopher said the building is needed now more than ever, even with the loss of Waste Management. Because of the lower volume, baled recyclables will stay at the center longer while enough volume is built up to ship to recyclers, he said.

The storage building will keep them out of the weather, he said.

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