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Perkasie is feeling impact of international recycling costs

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Perkasie Borough is feeling the impact of the international recycling market nosedive.

Borough Manager Andrea Coaxum advised council members to move forward with contracts for 2020 to continue curbside recycling. She said the borough should also look for ways to decrease its recycling center costs.

“Internationally there is no longer a market to dispose of that material,” Coaxum said at a regular borough council meeting Nov. 4.

Bids for hauling increased by roughly $74,000 next year, mainly related to disposal of materials and increased tonnage rates.

“We didn’t previously pay for the trailer for holding paper goods- now it’s $295 per month,” Coaxum said.

There is a nominal increase for hauling recycling to the south Philadelphia depot where Perkasie’s materials are received.

“Curbside pickup is significantly more expensive to collect than it is to process material at the recycling center,” she said.

Recycled materials processed at the center cost about $80 per ton to process, where curbside pickup spikes the cost of processing to $346 per ton.

“Don’t jump to conclusions based upon looking at the numbers. Under Act 101 we are mandated to separate certain recycling materials,” Coaxum explained.

Pennsylvania’s Municipal Waste Planning Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 101 of 1988 was adopted into law requiring municipalities over a certain size to recycling.

It also requires those municipalities to have a county plan to manage waste disposal.

Coaxum noted Perkasie has been a leader in municipal recycling since the 1980s – a distinction she’s eager to keep.

“I think it’s time to get creative, to think outside the box” and to innovate again,” she said.

Under Act 101 mandates, Perkasie is required to make curbside collections at least once a month.

“There is a cost to running this program and provide a service your residents expect,” Coaxam said.

She recommended managing costs that can be controlled and exploring grant funding to offset some of the costs.

“Act 101 does have money right now. There is a $2 surcharge (tipping fee) on every ton that is dumped,” Coaxum said.

She also recommended purchasing hauling containers to reduce the $74,000 container fee, although initially that cost savings would be reduced by the purchase of new borough-owned containers.

Other fees would include staffing, fuel and equipment maintenance. Coaxum argued these would add up to far less than the $74,000 increased container fee.

“We can’t get rid of all that cost, because we have labor collection and fuel, but if we have a vehicle that can haul those dumpsters we can see cost savings,” Coaxum said.

Better enforcement of the legal use of the recycling center is also on the table.

“We’ve been talking about this for years, and enforcing the borough ordinance when necessary to prevent non-borough residents from using our center,” Coaxum said.

Coaxum said many municipalities in Bucks County are struggling with rising costs for trash and recycling.

Others have opted to reduce what they are collecting. Under Act 101 mandates, the law requires municipalities to collect three recycling items. “We collect way more than three,” Coaxum said.

Perkasie is the last community in Bucks County that handles its own trash and recycling.

She said Perkasie’s best option for 2020 was a watch-and-wait approach to international market trends and to keep pace with the current program.

Coaxum said it’s up to the borough to better educate residents about their recycling choices.

“I think a lot of us are recycling things we probably shouldn’t because we want to do the right thing,” Coaxum said.


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