Plas­tic re­cy­cling still at is­sue as county seeks buyer

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By KEVIN MYRICK Editor

With a drop in the oil mar­ket, it’s been hard times try­ing to find a buyer for Polk County’s re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles.

Since fall 2015, the county has been pur­su­ing dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies to take on their plas­tic re­cy­clables and even pa­per prod­ucts as well, with­out much luck.

“Pe­tro­leum prices are so low right now there’s no ben­e­fit to us­ing re­cy­cled plas­tics,” McEl­wee ex­plained. “So it’s not cost ef­fec­tive for com­pa­nies to take it in right now, and even if they do they won’t take it in with­out be­ing bailed to­gether.”

One so­lu­tion pro­posed to the prob­lem: the county should buy a bailer. But it’s much more than just pur­chas­ing equip­ment and set­ting it up. The ma­chin­ery will need a build­ing to be housed in, and spe­cial elec­tri­cal re­quire­ments are needed to en­sure op­er­a­tions.

If pur­sued, the county would likely setup a metal barn for the bailer at the High­way 278 Con­ve­nience Cen­ter, only be­ing op­er­ated when

nec­es­sary.

How­ever, $25,000 is a hefty price tag to bun­dle to­gether plas­tic bot­tles no one want to pur­chase at the mo­ment, county man­ager Matt Den­ton said.

In­stead, he sought other ideas and so­lu­tions at the county’s first pub­lic works com­mit­tee meet­ing of 2016.

Af­ter a long dis­cus­sion on whether pur­chas­ing the bailer was even fea­si­ble, Pub­lic Works di­rec­tor Michael Gravett sug­gested dis­cussing the prob­lem with city and county run re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties in Rome and Pauld­ing County.

“It would likely gen­er­ate them some in­ci­den­tial amount of rev­enue, and if all we have to do is take it to them it might be some­thing they’d be in­ter­est in do­ing,” he said.

Mean­while, the coun- ty is try­ing to hold onto the plas­tic if pos­si­ble and keep it from end­ing up in the land­fill.

Ulim­tately, the prob­lem comes down to find­ing a space to keep sur­plus plas­tic un­til a so­lu­tion can be found, oth­er­wise it will end up in the same place as other trash.

Com­mis­sioner Ray Bar­ber, head of the pub­lic works com­mit­tee, said that no mat­ter what so­lu­tion is found for find­ing a home for the plas­tic, the county should con­tinue to al­low peo­ple who want to see their bot­tles and con­tain­ers taken care of to dump them in ap­pro­pri­ate con­tain­ers.

“We need to let peo­ple put it in the bins, take care of those bins, and let peo­ple know that we’re go­ing to take care of it,” he said.

The HON Com­pany and Keep Polk Beau­ti­ful have ex­pressed in­ter­est in as­sist­ing the county with the pro­ject should the county get a bailer for plas­tic. Specif­i­cally The HON Com­pany said they would do­nate a fork­lift for mov­ing bun­dles of plas­tic around any fa­cil­ity con­structed, Den­ton said.

Den­ton said the county will con­tinue to re­port progress to­ward find­ing a so­lu­tion to find­ing a re­cy­cler will­ing to take in the plas­tic.

FILE - Polk County has been ask­ing res­i­dents not to drop off re­cy­cled plas­tics in pre­vi­ous months as it has sought a so­lu­tion.

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