The joint Rome/Floyd County Solid Waste Commission is going to take a long look at finances and a new rate study before the end of the year.
Through the end of the September, garbage collection at the Walker Mountain landfill was up by more than 5,700 tons. But Landfill Director Lee Stone told the panel Tuesday he anticipates a significant decline for October.
Stone said that, with a full week still to go, he expects the October tonnage to be down as much as 4,900 pounds. City public works officials speculated that the reduction may be related to a private hauler taking more local garbage to an out of county landfill.
Republic Services has been responsible for as much as 46% of the business at the Walker Mountain Landfill. However, Gordon County Administrator Jim Ledbetter said the company is the process of purchasing Santek, which has a lease to manage his county’s landfill. The deal must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice and Ledbetter said he’s not sure if the DOJ has signed off yet.
Stone said that Marglen Industries alone has been sending close to 1,000 tons of waste to the Walker Mountain Landfill every month — but thus far in October, the total from the plant on Ward Mountain Road is less than 10% of that figure.
“They’re taking it somewhere,” said Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord, although he noted that Marglen may not be aware of where their garbage is going after it is picked up by a private hauler.
Ledbetter confirmed that Republic has increased its shipments to the Gordon County landfill from 60 tons a day to approximately 170 tons a day.
“Whoever thought garbage was going to be this complicated,” McCord said.
While a reduction in tonnage at Walker Mountain Landfill can be looked at as positive in one sense — likely extending its useful life — it does affect matters related to finances and proposed changes to the rate structure.
The commission is considering a change in the dump fee for construction and demolition materials, jumping it from $27.20 a ton up to $37.50, the same rate as the regular fill.
County Commissioner Allison Watters said any rate changes have to be competitive, particularly since the Polk County landfill is now managed by a private entity, Waste Management, and it is apparent that Republic will be taking over the Gordon County operation.
Also on Tuesday, County Public Works Director Michael Skeen reported that, through September, the jointly owned recycling center on Lavender Drive has taken in slightly less than half of the tonnage as it did a year ago.
On the other hand, because of a backload at the end of 2019, the center has shipped out slightly more tons of material than it did in the first nine months of 2019.
While prices for plastics have plummeted from a year ago, cardboard prices have skyrocketed. Earlier this year, prior to the pandemic, cardboard was bringing $30 to $40 a ton.
We just sold a load this week for $95 a ton,” Skeen said. “What we were hearing from our buyers is that it was the toilet paper demand. They needed to get that material in and try to get toilet paper back on the shelves.”
Skeen said is scheduling a special electronics recycling event for Nov. 14 and anticipates the Household Hazardous Waste recycling will resume in January.