COVINGTON — In an effort to remain a green community, the Covington City Council has approved an agreement with Pratt Industries in Conyers to take the city’s recyclables for $60 a ton. The action came at the council’s meeting Nov. 12.
Previously, Pratt and other companies that dealt in recycling would pay to take recyclables. Much of the recyclables material was then sent to China to be made into goods such as shoes, bags and new plastic products. But in 2018, China banned imports of 24 different kinds of recyclable wastes, including paper, cardboard and most plastics.
With there no longer being a market for waste companies to sell their recycling, the burden is falling onto cities and counties to either pay the recycling companies to take their waste, or throw it all away,
City Manager Leigh Anne Knight advised the council that the issue of what to do with the recyclables came up just as the council was deciding to outsource sanitation services.
“Recycling here is no longer a product we can actually be paid for,” she said. “ Originally, we were getting money for it, but now that’s not the case. We always hauled it to Pratt anyway, and Pratt is willing to set a rate of $60 per ton for single-stream (combined recycling) for a three-year period. This is actually market rate, and we believe this works better for us than actually having the contractor make an agreement with them. They were very willing to work with us and do that.
“The contractor is still going to pick up all the recycling,” she added. “When they take it to Pratt, Pratt will provide us with the details of how much the contractor took to them that we will be responsible for.”
Mayor Ronnie Johnston asked how much recyclable tonnage the city took in last year.
Public Works Director Tres Thomas said the city collected a little over 500 tons of recyclables last year.
Council member Josh McKelvey noted that if the city averaged 500 tons a year in the future, it would cost about $30,000 to dispose of it.
During discussion it was asked if the contract could be for a one-year period instead of three, so the price could be adjusted if it went down.
Knight said that could be done, but noted that chances are prices will continue to increase and locking in Pratt’s price for three years is better than going year to year, which could allow Pratt to increase its price.
The council agreed.
Johnston noted that the city could dump its recyclables it at the landfill for less, but it would not match the city’s efforts to be green and would hamper city efforts to attract industries interested in building in green communities.
“In essence what this means, because the city wants to still continue to be green, we are now going to be paying for the tonnage to be disposed of,” said Johnston. “If we did actually take this tonnage to our landfill, it is $41 a ton.
“So if anybody says Covington doesn’t care about being green; we actually do. We’re willing to spend a little bit more money to do it. We’re still trying to do the right thing.”
The council approved the contract with Pratt Industries by a 6-0 vote.