Current State of Recycling

In the early 1990s, Cy Brown, a Woodford County resident, responded to an ad in the Woodford Sun to start a recycling program in our county. He began with a trailer, a small group of committed volunteers and a desire to see recycling take hold in Woodford County. Today, Mr. Brown’s vision has been realized in many ways.

The cost of recycling has greatly increased beyond what anyone had originally envisioned, costing almost $2 million over the last three years. With 17 full-time employees (receiving benefits) processing 1,200 tons per year, Woodford County Recycling is by far the most expensive program in the area in terms of employee costs (making up 74 percent of the annual budget). Fayette County processes 25,000 tons per year (approximately 20 times the amount Woodford County does) with only 10 full-time employees with benefits.

Currently, the Recycling Center provides blue bags for residents to store their recycling, which are placed curbside and picked up weekly to be delivered to the Recycling Center at the Woodford County Park. The bags cost the county $40,000 each year. Rumpke, Woodford County’s garbage contractor, hauls the bags to the Recycling Center. For residents of Versailles and Midway, city employees haul the Blue Bags to the Recycling Center. At the Recycling Center, a very labor-intensive process of sorting the material for resale takes place. The material is then sold. The cost to sort this greatly exceeds the revenue that it generates.

Solution

Rumpke’s contract ends December 31, 2012. When the County rebids the contract it should require the hauler to take the material directly to the Lexington Recycling Center. Versailles and Midway will also deliver material directly to the Lexington Recycling Center. Both the City of Midway and Versailles would receive the revenue. There is no labor cost to Woodford County to have the material DIRECTLY HAULED to the Lexington Recycling Center and it will reduce costs significantly.

The Lexington Recycling Center accepts glass. By hauling to the Lexington Recycling Center we can improve service by allowing residents to recycle glass. The Recycling Center at the County Park will still continue to provide the same services, but with significantly fewer employees and at a significant cost reduction. There will be a nine-month window before the number of employees would be reduced, allowing ample time to secure employment elsewhere.

In 2011, Woodford County had 10 full-time positions available and 17 part-time positions that came available. We can give our recycling employees preference in those jobs as they become available. There is also some attrition to be expected during a typical year.

I estimate conservatively that we can save Woodford County $250,000 each year by incorporating these changes.

Woodford County’s Current Plan

Woodford County’s current plan for recycling involves the following:

  • The Transfer Station where solid waste (garbage) and recyclable goods are dropped off and processed. Located at the Woodford County Park.
  • Business Pickup by the recycling employees to over 200 non-residential sites including factories, small businesses, schools, farms and churches.
  • Blue Bags are used by residents to deposit their recyclable goods for curbside pickup. Provided by the Recycling Center, these bags can be picked up at only three locations with a limit of one roll per visit.
  • Curbside Pickup by Rumpke for residents of Woodford County that utilize Rumpke for garbage pickup. Garbage pickup for County residents is paid for by the resident and includes recycling pickup. The blue bags are delivered by Rumpke from the resident’s home to the Woodford County Recycling Center.
  • Curbside Pickup for the City of Versailles is handled by city employees at no direct cost to the residents. The blue bags are delivered from the resident’s home to the Woodford County Recycling Center.
  • Curbside Pickup for the City of Midway is handled by city employees at no direct cost to the residents. The blue bags are delivered from the resident’s home to the Woodford County Recycling Center.

 

Cost of recycling in Woodford County

The spreadsheet that follows shows a three-year average of the Solid Waste/Recycling Department. These figures are not estimates, but actual revenue and expense figures that were compiled by the Woodford County Treasurer from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011.  Here is an explanation of each component of the budget.

  • Receipts or revenue is generated from three sources. 1) Solid waste or what is charged for garbage taken at the transfer station. 2) Rumpke’s revenue to the county as part of their garbage contract. 3) Recycling revenue for materials sold to companies that purchase commodities. Recycling revenue is based on the price of commodities and can vary depending on the market prices.
  • Expenditures or expenses to the county. This figure is composed of the cost of running the Solid Waste/Recycling Center such as utilities, gasoline, blue bags, etc. as well as salaries. The cost of salaries are included into the expenditures rather than broken out, as they were not segmented from operating expenses until recently. In addition, I’ve separated benefits to employees, which include retirement, health and dental insurance, social security, and worker’s compensation insurance. The majority of the cost is salaries and benefits, which make up 74 percent of the annual budget. Total Expenditures is the annual budget for the Solid Waste and Recycling Department. It averaged just over $950,000 per year, but in 2012 it is estimated to be almost $1,050,000.
  • Total Cost to the County represents what the county and ultimately taxpayers pay for this department. While the department “makes money”, the expenditures exceed the revenue by an average of over $659,000 each year. For the past three years, the total cost to the taxpayers has been almost $2 million.

 

Woodford County Solid Waste/Recycling Center

3 Year Average from 7/1/2008 – 06/30/2011
RECEIPTS
Solid Waste $ 128,983.93
Rumpke  $ 33,392.94
Recycling $ 131,249.30
TOTAL RECEIPTS $ 293,626.17
EXPENDITURES
*Expenses Plus Salaries $ (716,828.73)
Benefits $ (236,408.65)
TOTAL EXPENDITURES $ (953,237.38)
TOTAL COST TO COUNTY $ (659,611.21)

*Includes cost of Blue Bags at $40,000 per year

The following chart compares our operation to other recycling operations in terms of employees and the amount of tons recycled each year. No operation is exactly like ours, but no other center employs more full-time employees with benefits than we do including Fayette County, which processes 20 times more material than Woodford County.

Woodford Recycling/Solid Waste Center
Compared to Neighboring Recycling Centers

*Full-Time Equivalent (ex. 2 part-time employees @ 20 hours/week = 1 Full-Time Employee

Boyle County operates their recycling center with two full-time employees and seven part-time inmates. They use single stream and accept glass. Their program costs less than $100,000 per year.

Danville contracts with their garbage contractor to deliver their recycling from the resident’s curb to the Lexington/Fayette Recycling Center – Direct Haul. They accept glass.

Lincoln and Garrard Counties combine their recycling programs. They process their material like Woodford County, but with fewer employees and significantly lower payroll costs. Their annual cost is less than $100,000.

Jessamine County’s director said they could double the amount of tons they accept with the same number of employees. They use a single stream model and accept glass. Their annual cost is less than $100,000.

Lexington/Fayette County processes more than 20 times that of Woodford County with seven fewer full-time employees with benefits. They use a temporary employment agency to supply their other employees with benefits to correspond with volume and to keep costs lower. They accept glass.

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