The Plymouth Township Board of Trustees must decide on the future of recycling in the very near future. (Photo: GFL)
Waste hauler Green For Life Environmental has delivered an ultimatum to Plymouth Township that may result in a death sentence for recycling in the community.
Citing a declining world market for most recyclables and rising costs to separate clean recyclable materials from ones with “spoilage”, the company known for its fluorescent-green trucks and robotic trash-grabbing technology has given township decision-makers 60 days to decide whether to raise residents’ rates or trash recycling altogether.
“It’s still a very fluid situation,” said Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise. “We want discussion to take place before we move on with a decision. My sense is that the board is leaning in the direction of the $2 increase, but there are a lot of questions we need GFL to answer.”
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The options presented by GFL in a recent face-to-face meeting with Heise include: raising residents’ monthly rates by $2.07 to maintain the status quo; or, for the current cost, transporting recyclables to a landfill or a Detroit incinerator.
Even the minimal price hike would amount to a 100 percent rate increase.
“The Environmental Justice Movement has tried to have the Detroit incinerator shut down, so I don’t think we want to enter that debate or fray,” said Heise.
Faced with an identical dilemma, the City of Westland recently opted to scrap its recycling program.
The topic of recycling in Plymouth Township sparked some serious green-tinted trash-talking at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting.
“Our township’s volume of recycling is among the highest in the area … so our homeowners are diligent when it comes to recycling,” said trustee Bob Doroshewitz. “If we abandon this program for $2 a month, residents are going to be outraged.”
Trustee Chuck Curmi said paying GFL increased rates while receiving nothing in return is not a good idea.
“They’re salesmen and what salesmen do is try to raise the price of what they’re selling,” Curmi said. “I say let’s do nothing … and see how good their executives are.”
Heise revealed that GFL has suggested it may reimburse the township for the increased fees once (or if) the recyclables market rebounds.
“I have nothing in writing from them, though, just an email,” he said. “So at this point, that plan seems a little sketchy.”
Under the township’s current contract with GFL, the company transports recyclable materials to a processing facility in New Boston and trash to a landfill.
The process demands meticulous separation and cleansing of the materials that end up at the recycling facility.
“In addition to the fact that the global market for recycling has declined, the recycling facility has had to raise its rates because people are putting spoilage — pizza boxes, diapers, items that can’t be recycled — in their recycle bins,” Heise said. “As a result, the process is slowed down because they have to separate the recyclable materials from the spoilage.”
Plymouth Township resident Mary Maclaren offered a simple solution that would at least put a dent in the problem.
“We all have to recognize the fact that we have to make less waste,” she said.
Contact Ed Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-375-1113.
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