Dawson County’s transfer station on Burt Creek Road will no longer accept recyclable items as of Dec. 28, 2022.
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The change comes after the Board of Commissioners voted on Dec. 1 to deny a contract to renew the station’s waste management services.
In August, the board authorized $350,000 for the first round of fixes to the transfer station to repair its building and retrofit the facility with a pull-in and drop-off recycling system, similar to Pickens County.
With the new system, Dawson County customers will have separate areas to dispose of household trash and place recyclables. Bins or divided compactors would bear signage showing what is and isn’t acceptable.
BOC Chairman Billy Thurmond suggested nixing the proposed contract to “temporarily halt” the recycling and “save money until we get the other system up and running.”
There is no estimated timeline on when those renovations are expected to be complete and recycling can resume, according to a Dawson County Government Facebook post.
During the BOC’s Dec.1 voting session, Interim county manager Vickie Neikirk shared with the board that “over 90 percent” of recyclable materials collected are eventually thrown away and not recycled due to contamination.
“What’s the point?”, District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines asked about continuing recycling services at the time. “I’m all for consistency in offering something to the citizens who want to participate in that…but that’s a lot of waste.”
Thurmond noted that the county has to pay a recycling charge to haul the materials and then a landfill charge to dump them when they’re contaminated.
In an email to DCN, Purchasing Manager Melissa Hawk shared transfer station statistics showing that the hauling fees for waste loads had risen from $105.90 to $325 per haul, with an additional container rental fee of $150 that wasn’t charged in previous years.
The overall costs for disposal of tainted materials would have risen from $3,797 to $7,501.90, a difference of $3,704, if the county had accepted the waste contract, Hawk said.
Dawson County’s total recycling costs as of Nov. 23 were $31,774.70. The new pricing for 2023 would have been “roughly between $73,245.60 and $90,022.80 annually if continued at the same tonnage,” Hawk added.
“Before, it was a lot of money and now, it's ridiculous,” District 4 Commissioner Emory Dooley said about the cost. “It’s grown exponentially from when it first started.”
Multiple commissioners noted that since most of the loads transported do end up being contaminated, it’s not profitable for the waste servicer to keep hauling.
Thurmond added that any money made from the recyclables would’ve served as an offset, but with the high contamination rate, there’s been no offset for the disposal costs.
Dawson County residents visiting the transfer station before Dec. 30 can help by going to the EPA’s website to review how to prepare recyclables ahead of a trip there.