CRAWFORD COUNTY, Kan. – James Triplett, Chairman for SEK Recycling board: “When we get to the point that we can’t make payroll, we’re gonna have to close the doors.”
The SEK Recycling Center in Pittsburg is facing financial struggles that could have a long term impact.
On August 9th, officials with the center asked the Crawford County Commission for funds so they could pay their employees because they were short by around $4,000 for the month.
Jeremy Johnson, Crawford County Commissioner: “The county actually had some bills with them, so we paid them early basically. And that helped to get them over their hump for payroll.. but that’s not long term.”
And it’s a problem that could drag on for a number of reasons.
Triplett: “Our mission at this recycling center is to divert materials from the land fill. So, we take a lot of stuff that we don’t make money off of.. glass, number three through seven plastic.”
They’ve also had recent trouble selling the paper they take in.
Triplett: “We just shipped out a load of white paper.. first load we’ve been able to get out for months because the dang paper mill that takes our paper was flooded.”
But a big problem they have right now is getting rid of plastic.
Triplett explains the price of crude oil is so cheap, that it’s cheaper for manufacturers to make new plastic products then it would be for recycled materials to be re-manufactured.
Triplett also says the company in Iowa they used to sell their plastic to has stopped buying it because they can no longer get rid of it either.
Triplett: “China has refused to take those commodities. We’re getting a glut of materials that have no home. What do we do with the plastic?”
They’re projecting being short by between $4,000 and $5,000 every month till the end of the year.
So they asked the county for monthly funding until they can find a permanent solution.
The county hasn’t decided how much, or where in the budget the funds would come from, but Johnson says keeping the recycling center open is important for the whole community.
Johnson: “It does a lot of community good in addition to the environmental and economic good that it does. And I think that it’s a value worth investing in that people would not want to see go away.”
The center is currently looking at several different solutions to the problem, one of which may be to no longer accept plastic at all.
Triplett: “This is a long term problem and a change in the markets, and we’re gonna have to figure out a way to adjust and change if we’re gonna survive.”
County commissioners are currently re-negotiating their contract with the land fill to include some kind of payment to the recycling center.
Commissioners will also discuss what they can afford to give the recycling center during their meeting on Friday the 16th.
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