Recycling Market Crash Hits Roxbury; Blue Diamond Bills Town

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ROXBURY, NJ – The company that collects garbage and recycling in Roxbury says it’s being financially crushed by the collapse of the recyclables market and it wants the township to help cover the cost.

The company, Blue Diamond Disposal, is paid $164,460 per month by the township for trash and recycling pick-up. However, in late December, it billed Roxbury an additional $6,377 – to help it cover the increased cost of disposing recyclables in November – and it recently sent another bill for an additional $6,377 for December, said town officials.

In a Dec. 17 letter to Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd, Blue Diamond president John Shortino, Jr. said the company had no alternative but to pass on the cost to Roxbury. Shortino said the additional billing “simply offsets the exorbitant amount of money we are paying to dump the recycling materials.”

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Shortino blamed the extra costs on waste import restrictions being imposed by China, “the world’s largest importer of cardboard, bottles and cans” and other market conditions. “Consequently, our recycling commodities are now COSTING almost as much as trash to dispose of to the sum of close to $100,000 every month,” wrote Shortino.

Facing a ‘Grim Reality’ in Recycling

He said his company absorbed the extra costs last year “but cannot continue to do so while remaining economically viable.” Shortino also told Shepherd that “cost savings that were passed along to the towns for the collection and processing of recyclables have been wiped out, and the disposal rates have become astronomical, almost as much as trash.”

Prior to 2018, Blue Diamond made “nominal” money from recycling collection, according to Shortino. He noted the company had a contract with ReCommunity, now Republic Services, for recyclables disposal that allowed it to pay $50 less per ton that ReCommunity charged.

“This contract has since expired, and the grim reality is now upon us,” wrote Shortino.

Speaking of contracts, Shepherd – in a note to the Roxbury Mayor and Council – pointed out that Blue Diamond’s contract with Roxbury offers “no mechanism” for the company to charge the extra money. There are three years left on the contract.

Shepherd said he asked Roxbury Township Attorney Anthony Bucco “to review this matter to ensure that the township has no exposure for this additional invoicing by Blue Diamond” and he said the township “will not be paying” the extra bill.

The topic was discussed briefly at this week’s Roxbury Mayor and Council meeting. Shepherd said he is confident the township “will be in a good position” and he added, “Obviously, we’re not going to pay any invoices that are outside the terms of the contract unless we discuss those with council and with legal counsel.

Shortino did not immediately return a request for comment today. In his letter, he predicted the township’s reaction to the extra invoices would not be favorable.

“It was never our intention to do so, but there exists no other feasible solution,” he wrote. “While we understand this will not be looked upon favorably, it is imperative that we do so in order to continue to maintain our standard of service while remaining solvent for years to come.”

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