Saratoga County

Less is more for recycle program

The county recycling program is collecting less material — especially metal — these days, but it’s c
Bob Hill of Ballston Spa, spent hours in the back of his car at the Saratoga Recycling Center on Route 29 in Saratoga Springs, going over bins of papers and materials making sure there were no important documents before he recycled them Thursday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Bob Hill of Ballston Spa, spent hours in the back of his car at the Saratoga Recycling Center on Route 29 in Saratoga Springs, going over bins of papers and materials making sure there were no important documents before he recycled them Thursday.

The county recycling program is collecting less material — especially metal — these days, but it’s continuing to set records for revenue from selling what it collects.

Through the first six months of 2008, the program took in $460,585, mostly from the sale of bulk metal, and the prices continue to rise.

“My conservative estimate is $900,000 for the year, which would be another record,” said county Recycling Coordinator Joseph J. Miranda.

The market for recycled newspaper and other paper products also remains strong, he said in a semi-annual report to the county Public Works Committee.

For the past 20 years, the county has operated recycling centers in Saratoga Springs, Milton, Clifton Park, Moreau and Corinth where residents can bring sorted materials to be recycled.

The county has recycling of bulk metal, paper, magazines and cardboard, tin cans, plastic bottles and glass containers. The program costs around $1.2 million per year to operate and for most of its life has brought in very little revenue.

The biggest change leading to revenue increases has been development of a worldwide market for metals. The price the county receives has risen from $65 per ton in January 2004 to $351 per ton at the Port of Albany this month. Paper is currently selling for $100 per ton, historically high but below the record.

“It’s driven by the demand in China, the Asian market,” Miranda said.

The sale of scrap metal has become so lucrative that commercial waste haulers for the most part now bypass the county recycling system and longtime auto scrap businesses and junk yards are being emptied for their metal value.

“They are clearing out junk yards all the way to Plattsburgh,” Miranda said. “We expect this trend to continue, with prices continuing to rise.”

It’s also led to the much-remarked-on phenomenon of people with pickup trucks scooping up any metal items left curbside during municipal cleanup drives.

The overall amount of material collected by the county is down 9 percent for the year to about 2,900 tons. The collection of metal is down 23 percent and accounts for nearly the entire drop.

The five recycling centers remain busy, but for the most part, it’s with recycling being done by private citizens.

“We still have quite a number of avid recyclers,” Miranda said. “We get a lot of calls.”

Also, Miranda reported that the county has recently filed an application to renew the state operating permit for its landfill in Northumberland, even though that landfill has never opened.

The landfill was completed and received an operating permit in 1998.

Private haulers who pick up most residential and commercial waste are going to the Colonie landfill, the trash incinerator in Hudson Falls or the Hiram Hollow transfer station in Wilton, where the waste is generally sent to a private landfill in Clinton County.

The renewal application was sent to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, where it is currently under review.

“Since we are not in an operational mode, we probably are not on a high priority list within DEC,” Miranda said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply