HCSWA Losing Money on Charleston Recyclables

By Paul Gable

Four months into a contract to process Charleston County recyclables at its material recovery facility, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority is losing money.

When the contract was being negotiated back in the summer and when it was presented to Horry County Council, the Charleston County deal was estimated to bring in $1 million per year in profits to the HCSWA.

Instead, the HCSWA is on track to lose at least that much by the end of the fiscal year.

Over the last two months (October and November) when all costs including trucking are reported, the HCSWA is losing approximately $125,000 per month.

The major reason appears to be false assumptions on how much of the incoming tonnage of recyclables would be sold.

In October and November, the total amount of recyclables arriving at the MRF was 4,386 and 4,238 respectively. The tons sold in those months were 2801 in October and 2,430 in November.

This left unsold recyclable tonnage of 3,383 (39% of the total) over the two months. The assumptions during the summer were that approximately 14.5% of incoming tonnage would be unsold residuals.

Horry County Council told the HCSWA it didn’t want any Charleston County trash to go into the HCSWA landfill. The HCSWA told council it would send an equivalent amount of construction and demolition debris (equal to the Charleston residual amount) out of the county.

According to sources familiar with the processing, approximately 700 total tons of C&D debris was sent to a landfill in Marion County in October and November. This leaves approximately 2,683 tons of residuals unaccounted for.

It is impossible to tell just how much residual tonnage is attributable to Charleston because Charleston County and Horry County recyclables are mixed when they arrive at the MRF.

But, it defies logic to believe that only 700 tons of residuals (out of 3,383) were attributable to Charleston County when incoming Charleston County tonnage is approximately double that of Horry County.

Last week, the HCSWA board voted 5-2 to recommend removal of board member Dan Gray. One of the major complaints against Gray was that he attempted to halt the Charleston recyclable deal.

During that discussion, two of the board members specifically addressed the Charleston County contract in their criticism of Gray.

“I do honestly believe that you have intentionally tried to harm the Solid Waste Authority,” board chairman Lance Thompson said to Gray. “You have tried to kill the Charleston County deal.”

Board member Pam Creech took issue with Gray telling council members that SWA leaders were providing them with misleading data about the Charleston County contract.

Based on results of the deal at nearly the halfway mark of the fiscal year, if Gray was ‘guilty as charged’ of trying to disrupt the Charleston County deal, he should be given a medal!

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