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Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Haulers Convince MUA the Builders Did It

By Rick Racela

They were responding to a tiny item at the very end of the MUA’s proposed 2006 solid waste user fees plan that highlighted the fact that waste loads containing corrugated cardboard, which is supposed to be recycled, “may be surcharged.”
This newspaper reported Nov. 9 the amount could be as much as $200 a ton.
MUA commissioners appeared convinced by the haulers’ argument.
“Those are good points and we will take them under advisement,” said Chairman George Betts. “We have a history of listening to customers and making changes as needed.”
“They have a legitimate problem,” agreed Vice Chairman John Pantalone.
“We are not aiming to penalize the haulers,” said Commissioner Thomas Phelan.
The MUA is under state pressure to increase its recycling rates.  There is a great deal of corrugated cardboard due to the construction boom, but many developers and builders are not separating it.
Recycling doesn’t just satisfy the state, it keeps those tons out of the landfill, and it makes money for the MUA.
Solid Waste Manager John Baron told this newspaper the agency last year sold 6,680 tons of corrugated at an average per-ton price of $90 and made $605,363.  Current price for corrugated is about $70 a ton, he said.
In response to the haulers’ pleas, Betts said the MUA “might have to change the rules.”
Specifically, MUA sources said, that would mean amending the Solid Waste Management Plan that delegates recycling enforcement to the county Health Department.
“Maybe we could share the power or something,” Baron told this newspaper.
“They have shown a willingness to delegate to us in certain circumstances,” noted MUA Solicitor Howard Long.
The three haulers were unanimous in the points they made during the 30-minute public hearing:
Â¥ They already tell their customers they must recycle, but some ignore it.
Â¥ If they are assessed a $200-a-ton surcharge, chances of collecting “after-the-fact” from builders are slim.
Â¥ If they get too tough with builders, they’ll lose them as customers to other haulers who are not stressing recycling.
“A penalty on the hauler is not the answer,” said Robert Allen of Waste Management of Woodbine. “We make every effort to educate our customers, but we can’t make them do something. We don’t load the containers. We are not the ones not recycling.
“We’re not enforcers,” he added. “If you want me to be, deputize me.”
“What’s the origin form for?” asked David Pron of Dave’s Trash in Burleigh. “It has their address. It’s pretty easy to reach the source.  Send the big bill there.”
He said more than 5 percent cardboard brings MUA action, and asked, “Who decides it’s more than 5 percent?”
“Since we started (emphasizing corrugated),” said Baron, “they have made a significant effort, letters to customers, magnetic stickers (on the dumpsters).”
“What is cost effective for the builder?” asked Allen. “If he doesn’t have enough (corrugated) for a second dumpster, where does he take it? Can he get in his pickup truck? They are in business to make money.”
“We’ve done about everything we can do to get the customer to comply” said Kim Davis of J. L. Davis in Ocean View. “To penalize the hauler is not the answer. To recoup $200 a ton is very difficult,” she said.
“Are these walking floors (trailers) coming just from Cape May County?” asked Pron. “You’re a lot cheaper (than other landfills).”
“I share your concern about where all the construction and demolition waste is coming from,” said Executive Director George Marinakis. “We haven’t had success tracking it. We sure don’t need it. But we don’t have the enforcement authority.”
“To put $200 a ton on top of the tipping fee on a guy who came down here from Horsham, Pa., because he thinks he’s going to make money in Wildwood…” posed Pron.
“We called Atlantic County,” he said.  “They tell them (builders) to put it in an  enclosure and they go get it.”
“We have been talking about getting in the collection business” said Betts.
“I’ve got one I’ll sell you,” said Pron.
“That was a joke,” said Betts.
“I tell the customer ‘you have to recycle,'” said Mike Pron of Dave’s Trash.  “Most listen, but some builders say, ‘I talked to another hauler who said they don’t do it.’ Then they’ll go someplace else.
“If we have a load of cardboard, we’ll tell you the name of the contractor and you call him. You knock on his door. They have to see you’re serious.”
Contact Zelnik at jzelnik@cmcheraldcom

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