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Recycling task force still weighing options

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Members of a task force think a public-private partnership could solve local recycling problems.

However, they don't think a solely private venture will work.

Task force members were told it would be too costly for a private company to run the county's recycling program on its own.

"It seems going fully private is not a feasible option," said Matt Ballard, president of the Charleston Area Alliance.

Now, the task force will look at options dealing with having a for-profit company team with a public agency to run a recycling program or having a public agency run the program on its own.

The task force, which is made up of Kanawha County staff, business leaders and officials with the Charleston Area Alliance, will explore both of these options in depth at a 4 p.m. meeting next Wednesday.

The meeting will be held at the Charleston Area Alliance building on Smith Street.

The task force will submit a proposal to the Kanawha County Commission on how to handle the recycling problem in the near future.

Commissioner Dave Hardy, who helped create the task force, Ballard to finish the final reports as soon as possible.

This is because the Solid Waste Authority will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss a partnership with West Virginia Recycling Services. The company is proposing to lease the Slack Street recycling center and handle recycling for the county.

Hardy would like to have the other options ready for presentation to the commission soon after Friday's meeting.

Task force members eliminated the option to have a private entity run recycling in the county on its own because such a plan seemed unfeasible, said Colt Sandoro, the county's project manager who also sits on the task force.

The cost of running drop-off centers and accepting items from municipalities would likely cut too deep into a private company's profits, Sandoro said. The private entity would also have to renovate an existing structure into a recycling center or build one from the ground up.

However, the public-private partnership, or having a public entity run a recycling program on its own, could work, task force members believe.

A public entity could obtain grants, or a loan from the state Solid Waste Management Board, to build a new state of the art facility, said Joe Tucker, director of housekeeping and waste management at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Tucker is also a member of the task force.

A public entity could obtain a $750,000 state loan to renovate a building, such as the one at Slack Street, he said. The agency would then pay about $5,200 a month to pay off the loan in about 25 years.

The loan payments, plus operating expenses, would likely leave the public entity with a $195,783 annual profit.

A public-private partnership could also work, said Wayne Morgan, Thrasher Engineering's vice president of business development and external affairs. Morgan is also a member of the task force.

The strengths of such a partnership lie in the fact that a public entity could secure grants to help support the program and the private entity could handle the recycling. However, both groups would have to have similar goals for the partnership to work, he said.

For example, both entities would have to agree on what items would be accepted at the recycling center, Morgan said.

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.

 


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