The operation of the center was previously contracted out, but in January 2011, the county board of commissioners decided to bring the operations in-house, county spokesperson Julie Hoover-Ernst said.
This year, the county re-bid some contracts to save more money and cut out middlemen for hauling certain materials, such as glass.
“We will not longer use a middle man,” Ernst said. “We will haul the glass ourselves and not have to split the profits.”
Additionally, the county’s collections of yard debris will continue but no longer will there be a need to haul it out of the county.
“We will haul it to the [Department of Transportation] yard and have it ground with the other waste wood that is brought in from other county departments, such as DOT and Stormwater,” Ernst said.
In order to be profitable, the county must make more selling recyclable material to vendors than the overall cost of operating the center.
“It does this by trying to get the best price for the recyclable materials while always looking for ways to minimize the cost to transport the materials to the vendors who process them,” Ernst said.
And while the center has already been made profitable in the last two years, the county is still seeking ways to make even more money.
“For instance, in the future, the county would like to invest in a baler to compress materials such as paper and cardboard, so that it can haul 10 times more materials per truckload than it can currently haul,” Ernst said. “That would create transportation savings that would translate into greater profitability for those recyclables.”
Right now, the county is bringing in a large amount of material each month.
According to public works executive assistant Beth Tudor, in October, the county collected 12,680 pounds of plastic, 928 gallons of motor oil, 93,270 pounds of paper and cardboard, 1,640 pounds of aluminum and 19,120 pounds of scrap metal.
Ernst said the center has a dual purpose of turning a profit for the county while also helping the environment.
“It is important to remember the big picture, and that is we are keeping roughly 804 tons per year out of the state’s landfills, reducing energy consumption — because it is cheaper and less energy intensive to make paper and glass from recycled materials than it is to produce it from new raw materials — and decreasing our environmental footprint, all with no negative impact to the county’s general fund budget,” she said.