Due to a fire last month at a nearby material recycling facility (MRF) in Broome County, officials in Cortland County say they’ve been forced to temporarily landfill all recyclables to avoid substantial tax increases for residents.
The fire took place January 3rd at the Taylor Garbage Service plant in Apalachin, immediately driving up costs that were already high for municipalities across the state including Cortland County.
“Landfilling is not the ideal solution,” said Highway Superintendent Charles Sudbrink, who also oversees the county’s Solid Waste and Recycling operations. “The cost of recycling has reached the point where we cannot afford these substantial cost increases without negatively impacting the taxpayers of the County.”
Residents are asked to continue recycling as they would normally.
Material will still be picked up and brought to the recycling center on Pendleton Street, at which point the county will sort out anything of potential value and bring the rest to the landfill itself.
Since foreign restrictions were imposed on many recyclables that were once valuable commodities, the entire recycling industry has been struggling to cope.
Sudbrink says the decision to temporarily landfill recyclables was approved by the DEC, with the goal of resuming recycling as soon as markets allow.
DEC officials now meet with county leaders this week to develop a composting program that would at least divert paper from the landfill.
In the meantime, residents are encouraged to reduce the amount of material being sent to the landfill by looking for items with packaging that can be re-used instead of single use containers and plastics.
“Treating this additional material as waste for a short period of time will have minimal impact on the overall lifespan of the landfill,” Sudbrink said. “We don’t want the public to back away from recycling, we need to weather the storm but we need to do it without hurting the taxpayers. Washington and Albany need to begin addressing this crisis. Recycling starts with manufacturers and consumers at point of purchase, we need to collectively look at ways we can reduce the volume of material produced while the commodities market catches up with the new reality.”
Cortland County receives just under 4,000 tons of recycled material annually.
No word yet on exactly how long this measure is expected to remain in place.