• 72°

Recycling to cost city of Brookhaven more

The price of recycling to the city is going up, but Brookhaven aldermen plan to absorb that cost in order to keep the program going.

The city will pay $500 more per month — about 12 cents a house — to Arrow Disposal Service Inc. to empty recycling containers throughout Brookhaven.

“We’re not planning on passing that on to the households,” Mayor Joe Cox said.

Arrow founder and CEO Richard Urrutia told the mayor and board at the Tuesday meeting that the recycling process center in Sumrall Arrow has been using notified the garbage company in mid-October that it would no longer accept recycling single stream. That means the homeowner puts all their recyclables in one container and it is collected by Arrow and sorted at the process center.

“The industry as a whole is going through tremendous changes in regards to recycling everywhere,” he said. “China stopped buying recycling and it’s hitting people all across the United States.”

According to an NPR report, the Chinese government in 2017 started to cut back on plastic trash imports. Then in January 2018, it banned almost all imports. Last year, China took in less than 1 percent of its 2016 total.

“Nobody knows where this is going to end,” he said. “We could get a call in 30 days saying ‘We’re out.’ Cities are changing or they’re going way up on their recycling. For right now, that’s the best we can do to keep it the way it is right now.”

Urrutia said Arrow doesn’t make a profit on the recycling programs.

“We want to see you continue to recycle,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re just a hauling company, we’re not the processor. We’ll continue to look. If we find something better, I’ll come back to you because this, to us, is not a moneymaker. It’s more of a service to the community and we’d like to see you continue what you’ve started.”

Urrutia found three alternative processing centers that would allow Brookhaven residents to continue recycling “exactly the way we’re doing it.”

Arrow takes Natchez’s recycling to Vidalia, Lousisiana. For Brookhaven to use the processing plant there, it would cost an additional $2,800 a month. To use a plant in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, the city would pay $3,400 more each month.

The Canton processor was just $500 more per month.

“So the best one to keep the city in the same position that they are and the constituents being able to recycle like they do is for us to take the garbage to Allen’s Recycling in Canton,” he said.

Cox said the city is committed to a recycling program, which prevents waste from going into landfills.

“We’re glad that you could find us another location that would take this,” he said. The board agreed and voted 5-0 to use Allen’s for recycling. Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron and Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill were absent from the meeting.

CPI adjustment

Urrutia also requested a 10-cent per household consumer price index adjustment that should have been addressed prior to the fiscal year 2020 budget’s finalization.

Arrow’s contract with the city, just like the county, allows for a rate adjustment yearly based on the consumer price index. Urrutia said all of the other customers have CPI adjustments due on the anniversary month of the contract, which is October for Brookhaven. However, when Arrow calculated the adjustment, they realized the contract calls for the number to be calculated in May to go into affect in October.

“So, we missed it,” he said. “So technically, you could say ‘I’m sorry. See you next year.’ And I’d have to take my medicine and go home. But had we calculated it in May, we would have been allowed a 40-cent increase per the CPI for the contract. When we calculated it in October, it was 20 cents. That’s the just the way the numbers adjust. It changes from month to month.”

Pickups for the city fluctuates around 4,000 customers each month.

Urrutia asked the board the to grant half the 20 cents increase and give them 10 cents per customer per month.

“For the most part, I’m at your mercy. It doesn’t sound like much, but in our business right now, margins are thin,” he said.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Mary Wilson made the motion to accept the 10-cent increase, and Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice gave the second. The board voted 5-0 to accept it.

Urrutia was happy with the vote.

“We enjoy working here and in the county very much,” he said.

Customers in Brookhaven are billed $23.50 each month for once-a-week garbage pickup, a rolling 95-gallon cart and a recycling bin. Arrow picks up recycling on Monday and garbage on Tuesday through Friday. Not all customers choose to recycle, City Clerk Samantha Melancon said.

Customer bills won’t see any adjustments, if any, until October 2020.