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Recycling budget more secure one year after center's opening

October 25, 2011

Photo by Becky Polaski - Bekki Titchner, Elk County recycling/solid waste coordinator, discussed the county recycling program's financial situation during Tuesday afternoon's Solid Waste Authority meeting.

RIDGWAY – According to Elk County Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator Bekki Titchner, close to 200 tons of material have likely come through the Community Recycling Center over the course of the past year. Not only is the county's recycling program thriving, but the program's budget is also no longer in the dire straits it was a year ago.
"We are no longer bleeding red, which is incredible," Titchner said.
The end of this month will mark one year since the county's recycling operation moved to the Community Recycling Center at the Stackpole Complex in St. Marys. That decision came with a number of changes that saw drop-off recycling containers completely removed from St. Marys and other areas, and plastic collection limited only to the center.
"We were spending upwards of $60,000 a year just on the drop-offs," Titchner said. "This year so far we've spent $11,000. That is a substantial savings. We're able to market our materials. We're not getting a lot of money for them, but we're actually making money over there on each load that goes out. That's been helping. [Getting our financial situation turned around has been due to] a mix of things, but mostly being a lot more fiscally conservative. We had to."
The center is also awaiting delivery of a new baler that will allow them to market their recyclables independently of JaSar. Since JaSar owns the baler currently used at the center, all of the items baled with it have to be marketed through them. Along with this, new electronics legislation was recently enacted and authority members anticipate that it will also lead to an increase in revenue.
"It was a game-changer, both of those things," Titchner said of the new baler and electronics legislation.
She noted that additional revenue is also generated from a host fee paid by Clearfield and Jefferson counties for garbage from those locations that goes into Greentree Landfill. According to Titchner, 50 cents per ton for the garbage from those counties that goes into the landfill goes to the authority.
"In this last quarter, we've had $17,000 from that," Titchner said.
Titchner cautioned against relying too much on this funding, though, as in the future the county may lose that revenue source.
"If, within the next five years, Clearfield and Jefferson County garbage goes somewhere else, we'd lose all that money. That's an if, but it's just one of those things we can't really depend upon because in the future something could change with that," Titchner said. "Both counties are looking at redoing their solid waste plans, so we have no idea what they're looking at doing with their garbage in the next 10 years. It's nice to know that we'll be turning a profit. If we have to circle the wagons even tighter, we'll be able to do that without fear of losing the entire program."
Donations have also played a significant role in the center's success.
"The donations basically are paying for the rent every month and they're helping pay for the utilities over at the building. It's money that goes directly back into the program," Titchner said.

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