On Oct. 4, recycled items from Waste Management customers in the city’s franchise area began being taken to the RePower South recycling facility in Montgomery, Alabama.
It’s not known yet, however, how long that scenario will last.
Waste Management’s use of the facility in Montgomery for Destin’s recyclables followed the Okaloosa County Commission’s mid-September decision to have recycled items from the company’s customers in the county’s overall franchise areas taken to the Springhill Landfill in Jackson County.
A majority of the board approved going that route rather than paying higher recyclable-processing rates charged by the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority for its facility in Cantonment, and rather than disbanding the recycling program all together.
Until earlier this month, Destin’s recyclables had been taken to the county’s transfer station off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach.
There, they were mixed with recycled items from several other municipalities, as well as from the county, before being hauled together to the ECUA facility, county Public Works Director Jason Autrey said Monday.
But the ECUA stopped accepting those mixed loads once its agreement with the county ended in late September.
On Tuesday, the County Commission responded to a public outcry against taking the county’s recycled items to the landfill by announcing plans to consider a new agreement that would once again see those items brought to the ECUA facility. It’s a proposed almost two-year agreement. The ECUA board will consider the agreement at its meeting next Tuesday.
There would be no customer rate hikes. County solid waste enterprise fund money would be used to pay the higher anticipated recyclable-processing cost of about $350,000-$400,000 per year.
It’s not known yet whether Destin will want to also return to having its recycled items brought to the ECUA facility, Destin spokeswoman Catherine Card said.
“If we want to make any changes, it will have to be discussed with Waste Management,” she said.
At last week’s council meeting, Ronnie Bell, public sector solutions manager for Waste Management, told the council that company officials would return at an upcoming council meeting with a proposed contract amendment that would reflect the continued transfer of recyclables to Montgomery.
The processing of recycled items at the RePower South facility costs more than the processing conducted by the ECUA, he said.
Councilman Steven Menchel suggested holding a workshop to discuss the future of the city’s recycling program before approving an amended contract.
That discussion could be held at a workshop or at an upcoming council meeting, Card said.
“Nothing is set in stone yet,” she said. “For now, the course of action is Montgomery.”