By Paul Gable
The HCSWA (Horry County Solid Waste Authority) board will hear a proposal to take recyclable materials from Charleston County today.
Charleston County recycling took a big hit when Sonoco, the contractor that ran the Romney Street recycling facility for Charleston County, notified the county it would cease operating the facility July 31, 2015.
Charleston County reportedly is looking at several options but the option to truck the waste to Horry County seems most viable at this point. The HCSWA material recycling facility (MRF) has operated under capacity since it opened for operations in March 2008.
Other options for Charleston County include the county operating the Romney Street facility or hiring another contractor to operate the MRF. However, according to sources familiar with the Charleston County MRF, the Romney Street facility is reportedly old and not in good condition.
Charleston County decided last year to build a new, single stream recycling facility, but it became bogged down with a proposal from RePower South to include new and untested technology for producing fuel pellets as part of the operation.
The situation with Charleston County is compounded by the fact that Dorchester County has been taking its recyclables to the Romney Street facility and apparently must be included in the new planning. Berkeley County also shipped some recyclables to Romney Street, but it also has a contract with Sonoco with another year to run and will bring its recyclables to the North Charleston facility run by Sonoco.
It is unclear what path the HCSWA board will pursue at this point.
Preliminary numbers sent to HCSWA board members by HCSWA staff are spare and incomplete leaving a number of questions to be asked at today’s meeting.
According to sources familiar with the proposal, the HCSWA will be paying the trucking costs to bring the waste from Charleston County to the HCSWA facility on Highway 90. Frankly, this doesn’t make any sense.
Another consideration with this issue is that the resale market for recycled materials is at a 20-year low, according to waste experts.
It seems improbable that an operation that includes Horry County taking out of county waste at no cost, paying the trucking charges to get it here and trying to sell the estimated 80-85 percent of the material that is expected to be available for resale from it at 20-year low prices will be profitable for the HCSWA.
It is great to help another county through a temporary problem, but not at the expense of Horry County taxpayers which seems very possible at this point.