Recycling transfer station makes economic sense

The value of recycling many household items keeps rising as landfill space becomes more expensive and scarce.

In addition, emerging markets for the recycled materials make it more economically feasible to expand recycling efforts.

Many local communities have initiated comprehensive programs that allow residents to bunch recyclables into two categories – “rigid” items, such as bottles and cans; and “fiber,” such as paper and cardboard.

One of the problems, though, for local units of government has been where to handle the materials once they are picked up curbside. In Marquette, for example, having to haul the recyclables out to the county landfill in Sands Township adds a lot of expense to the program.

However, the city and Marquette County Solid Waste Authority, which operates the landfill, have entered into an agreement to make the city’s program much more efficient.

The plan calls for building a recycling transfer station in the city of Marquette, most likely along McClellan Avenue about a mile or so south of the U.S. 41 Bypass.

This would be a convenient location for the city to drop off recycles from its curbside collection and drop-off services provided to city residents.

While the city would be responsible for getting the materials to the transfer station, the authority would process and market the recyclables.

Under the agreement, the city would receive 60 percent of the profits from the operation and the authority would receive 40 percent. The authority would also build and maintain the facility under the 30-year agreement.

While approving the agreement at a recent meeting, city commissioners pointed to the main benefit of the pact being to reduce the amount of recyclables being thrown into the landfill. This would have the dual benefit of extending the life of the facility and reducing the tipping fees by reducing the tonnage of materials deposited in the landfill.

Having such a sensible recycling operation in place could have another positive result: Getting more residents to expand their recycling efforts, thus making the program even more economically beneficial to all involved.