Increased costs put East Deer recycling program in jeopardy
East Deer officials say they are baffled by and concerned about the skyrocketing cost of recycling over the past several months.
“When we started this program, our cost was supposed to be $150 to $160 per month,” Commissioners Chairman Tony Taliani said.
But the most recent recycling bill the township received from its refuse contractor, Waste Management Inc., showed an increase of nearly 600 percent, to $869.
“If this keeps up, we’re not going to be able to pay our normal garbage bill,” he said. “We can’t afford $900 recycling bills because we’re not billing (residents) for it.”
At Taliani’s request, the commissioners delayed approving the bill pending an investigation.
Taliani said the township is not required by state law to have recycling because its population is under 5,000. But, he said, the commissioners decided to start a program because some residents “really wanted to do it.”
The township did not offer a door-to-door program like many communities have because it would be too costly. Instead, officials set up a centralized recyclables collection with Waste Management. Residents can bring recyclables to a dumpster located near Memorial Park. The waste hauler then picks up the recyclables once a week.
The program started in May 2017 and the bill for that month was more than $300 because of start-up costs, he said.
After that first month, the monthly recycling bill, assessed for the previous month, never topped $200. Taliani said that changed dramatically in April when the township received a $339 bill. That was followed by a $344 bill in May, $348 in June.
“That’s double what we expected and they are saying it’s because we have overages,” he said. “They charge $125 per overage.”
Waste Management spokeswoman Erika Deyarmin-Young confirmed the additional fees are related to overage charges.
“Our contract provides service to a 6 yard container. However, during the past several service days, the container has been overflowing with material,” she said. “Our overage charges are to recoup the additional cost associated with processing the overflow of material.”
Commissioner Joe Novosat said it is possible the overages occurred because some people may have been using the dumpsters to dump garbage.
Deyarmin-Young said it’s important that residents be aware of the material they are dropping off for recycling to avoid contamination fees.
“Material should be placed loose in the bin, not in plastic bags,” she said. “The only items accepted for recycling are plastic bottles, jugs and jars; aluminum and tin cans; paper and cardboard.”
Yerace is a freelance writer. Staff writer Brian C. Rittmeyer contributed.