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TELL CITY - An effort by the Perry County Recycling Management District to increase the amount of cardboard it collects could cost local businesses more, but they could partner with each other to send costs below what they're now paying, district leaders said.
The district provides trailers to businesses at a cost of $20 or $30 per month, Executive Director Paul Alvey told the district's board of directors at their Feb. 26 meeting.
Veolia Environmental Services Solid Waste has agreed to provide and collect the contents of dumpsters for $35 per month, he said.
"I'm trying to get people to partner with each other," Alvey said. "There's a slight potential for costs to rise, but a huge potential for costs to go down" if businesses near each other agree to share dumpsters.
"They don't care how many neighbors share a dumpster," he added.
The $35 would provide an initial dumpster to an area. Additional dumpsters would cost $7 each. Veolia would pick up the cardboard, compact it and deliver it to the district's Cannelton site.
Alvey said he thinks the material being recycled from 20 locations now "is only the tip of the iceberg of the cardboard we could get," and speculated that number could be doubled in a year."
Businesses that recycle cardboard save the costs of sending it to landfills. Dumpsters for nonrecyclable trash cost $94 per month, Alvey said.
Veolia will take on as many customers as want the service, he said, and it's possible costs could go down further as the number of customers rises. While he appreciates those who already have cardboard picked up, he has expressed at past meetings reluctance at purchasing more trailers due to their cost-inefficiency.
"Benefits to the district would be huge," Alvey told the board. "It will take my driver off the road and save wear and tear on our truck. It's one of the most time-consuming, dangerous processes we have."
The district would lose liability risk, as well, he added.
"I think we could get enough business that the price would come down," board member and County Commissioner Jody Fortwendel said.
Board member and Tell City Mayor Barbara Ewing expressed reluctance to impose price increases on anyone, but said she saw a lot of benefits in Alvey's proposal.
Among them was the fact some of the trailers currently in use allow wind to blow cardboard out, which must be cleaned from catch basins.
"Everything we can shift to someone else and still get benefits — that's sound business," Alvey said.
The board approved the proposal. Alvey said a Veolia representative will attend the next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. March 26, with a contract for the board to consider.
The price of cardboard is up slightly, although it varies among brokers, he told the board.
He predicted "we'll take some big hits in comparison to last year" with the recyclables market "mirroring Wall Street and the economy," but said "we'll keep moving ahead and be as efficient as we can be."
"It's never an apples-to-apples comparison," Alvey noted as he reported "I'm surprisingly pleased we're only down $5,000 from last February."
He also said health-insurance costs rose 4 percent from last year and liability insurance will cost $150 more, but a decrease in workers compensation "will more than offset the additional costs." The decrease "is a result of us not having claims," Alvey said. "We really worked hard on that."