Orange County, Orlando to pay more for recycling

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A big shift in the value of recycling means Orange County and the surrounding cities will have to pay thousands more a year.

It now costs more to process the plastics, papers and metals than what companies can get for the materials in return, making it cheaper to toss those plastic bottles into the trash can than to recycle them.

The county said the cost is still worth the environmental benefits and the extra space at the dump.

More than 25,000 tons of used bottles, cans and cardboard pass through the recycle machines in Orange County each year.

The machine part of the process has always been free, but that's about to change.

"The recyclable sale doesn't cover the cost of processing anymore," said Orange County Solid Waste manager James Becker.

The value of paper, metal and plastic is down worldwide, and Waste Management is now charging Orange County and the cities in the county $42 per ton to make up for it.

"Plastic is a product made from oil and oil is at a low, and it's been at a low for a number of years," Becker said.

For Orange County it's an extra $430,000.

It’s about $93,000 Winter Garden, and $338,000 for the city of Orlando.

A breakdown of costs 

[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]ORANGE - 10,249 tons= $430,500

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]APOPKA - 1,498 tons = $62,900

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]OCOEE - 480 tons = $20,200

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]WINTER GARDEN - 2,228 tons = $93,600

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]WINTER PARK - 2,145 tons = $90,100

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]WINDERMERE - 330 tons = $13,900

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]MAITLAND - 1,000 tons = $42,200

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]OAKLAND - 61 tons = $2,600

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]EDGEWOOD - 178 tons = $7,500

{C}[if !supportLists]·         {C}[endif]ORLANDO - 8,061 tons = $338,600

"There's a value to (the fact that) that material still doesn't go into the landfill," said Becker.

Waste Management asked for more money when Orange County extended its contract--which the cities also use--an extra six months.

The county said it had no other option because when it asked for recycling bids, no company came forward.

"They want to be guaranteed of a certain amount of money coming in, because they feel that this commodity value of these recyclables,” Becker said.

The county plans to ask for bids again in the coming months.

Orange County and Orlando are going to take on the extra expense for now and hope to be able to do that for a while, but if prices continue to go up, they may have to re-evaluate.

State from the city of Orlando:

“The city collected 8,681 tons of singles stream recycling from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.  At the $42 per ton hauling and processing fee that would be about $364,602 annualized.  We do utilize the county facility for the vast majority of our recycling. We drop a very small amount at a recycle transfer center in Taft.

We believe our current solid waste rate structure can absorb this increase in annual cost. Over the last few years, we've implemented a lot of collection efficiency and cost-saving measures, like our use of Hybrid-Hydraulic trucks, CNG (natural gas) trucks which has produced significant fuel savings for us.  We believe these savings will help to offset any impacts from this.”