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Depressed commodity prices impact solid waste

Depressed commodity prices have led to a current operating loss of over $250,000 for McLeod County Solid Waste. Add in the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) retrofit payment, and that loss is pushing $600,000 for the first eight months of 2015.
The Solid Waste Advisory Committee, which consists of the five McLeod County commissioners, heard those figures Friday, Oct. 30, as it considered a business plan for the facility.
Commissioner Sheldon Nies was quick to point out that the figures applied to the whole solid waste department, and not just to the recycling program.
And Don Hopp, MRF operator, noted that the switch to single-sort recycling from five-sort couldn’t be blamed, either.
“Remember, we just got that going in April,” said Hopp.
The biggest issue is depressed prices for commodities the MRF recycles. The prices have dipped by double-digit percentages in nearly all categories — plastic is down 19 percent; aluminum, 9 percent; mixed paper, 19 percent; corrugated cardboard, 15 percent; ferrous metals, 54 percent; and glass, 70 percent.
Nies said that this isn’t the first time the facility has been the victim of falling prices, and that the losses are typically covered by the solid waste abatement fund, which is funded through tipping fees at the Spruce Ridge Landfill.
Hopp said prices are starting to rebound already.

For more, see the Nov. 11 print edition of The Chronicle.