MORRISBURG – For months now those in the industry have known that the market for recycled plastics collapsed, but that reality came home to roost for South Dundas Mon., Dec. 16.

If the municipality is to continue using the City of Cornwall’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for their recycling program, it will cost $174,580. That’s in stark contrast to the 2019 cost of $31,900 for the same tonnage and will represent a more than two per cent levy increase on its own.

The reason behind the sharp increase is the City of Cornwall’s new rate structure for 2020 will be based on a full cost recovery rate.

The 2019 rate for recycling was $55 per tonne and the new projected rate would be $301.00 per tonne.

This price change is a direct result of the collapse of the recycled plastic market and the upgraded sorting equipment used by the City of Cornwall’s new contractor that provides the sorting service.

“For some reason they went and bought all new, nice and shiny equipment,” said Mayor Steven Byvelds, adding, “We do recognize that recycling revenue has fallen since China has gotten out of it.”

The most common type of plastic is High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which is used to make milk jugs, detergent bottles, toys and some plastic bags. It is also very durable and does not break down under sunlight or extreme temperatures and is used to make bed liners for trucks, picnic tables, park benches and for other heavier uses.

The price of HDPE from curbside collection was at 20.34 cents per pound in August of this year, compared to 2018 when it was 38.81 cents per pound. That was the high water mark and represented a 42 per cent increase from August 2017 when it was 27.31 cents per pound. The national average price of color HDPE was trading at 10.06 cents per pound and one year ago this grade was trading at 14.56 cents per pound.

Market prices aside, this presents a formidable problem for the residents of South Dundas. If there is to be a recycling service offered, it will either mean paying more through taxation or moving to a user fee system, which seems inevitable to Councillor Lloyd Wells.

“There’s got to be a user fee. It can’t just be on taxation anymore,” he said.

Byvelds concurred the numbers were tough to swallow and warned that doing what is ethically right may be a painful financial exercise.

“As much as I believe in doing the right thing, the economics of this are way out of line. It’s way out of line. I’m frustrated with it. That’s all I can say,” he said.

The other options range from no longer offering recycling, or redirecting the material through GFL or HGC Management to another site. Neither of which is ideal, but may be the short-term economic reality.

“It’s not the right thing to do, said Byvelds. “Things are going to change in the next three years in theory, but we have to get there.”

The lack of a qualified individual heading up the landfill department has been a long-standing issue that has compounded these problems, but that may be close to being resolved.

“We have no person here now that can help direct us to where we need to go. We do have some applications in on that,” said Byvelds.

The municipality has until Tues., Dec. 31 to sign the contract with the City of Cornwall and will discuss the issue during preliminary budget deliberations Thurs., Dec. 19 and Fri., Dec. 20.