Starting in July, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority will begin charging recycling carriers when contamination rates exceed 15% of a charge. In anticipation of this change, the carrier that provides recycling services to Rehoboth Beach has increased the cost of its service by 88%.
Rehoboth Beach’s contract with Millsboro-based Blue Hen Disposal expired at the end of April. At a meeting on April 16, the commissioners unanimously approved a new three-year contract with Blue Hen that ends April 30, 2024. As approved, the city will pay $ 3.20 per can, per collects, the first year of the contract, $ 3.50 the second year and $ 3.70 the third year. The city currently pays $ 1.70 per can per collection for its approximately 1,900 recycling cans.
City Manager Sharon Lynn presented the increase at a special meeting of commissioners on April 13. She said the city announced the contract and Blue Hen, the city’s current supplier, was the only respondent.
Public Works Director Kevin Williams said he’s confident most, if not all, of the increase is a response to how DSWA, the entity that handles all recycling in Delaware, will collect recycling from July. He said that’s when DSWA will start charging a fee to carriers who bring in loads of contaminated recycling materials. According to DSWA guidelines, “contaminated” simply means that non-recyclable materials are mixed with acceptable recycling items.
Williams said there will be a six-month grace period at DSWA, during which DSWA will check truck loads of recycled material to see what percentage is contaminated. He said there are still questions about how the program will actually be implemented.
Williams said there had been discussions that Blue Hen would only do the busy time of the year, while the city collected during the off-season, but Blue Hen did not want to do so as he is difficult to determine how much manpower is needed throughout the year.
In an April 21 email, Lynn explained how the increase will affect the city’s budget for fiscal year 2022, which began April 1. this whole line item.
The new contract with Blue Hen, Lynn said, will add approximately $ 102,000 to this position, but since other services should not be required, the total addition to the budget should not exceed $ 95,000.
Mike Parkowski, head of commercial and government services for DSWA, said the fees aren’t new, but there will be a change in how they’re calculated. He said the plan is to conduct a waste filtering audit, establish a baseline of expected contamination, and then charge carriers for each percentage point when contamination levels exceed 15%.
That’s a reasonable percentage, Parkowski said, adding that sometimes loads are contaminated up to 30 percent. Some of them are getting really bad, he said.
Parkowski declined to comment on the details of the contract between Rehoboth and Blue Hen; However, he said resort towns are traditionally not so good at recycling. People who are full-time residents are much better at recycling than people who are on vacation, he said.
The city has offered its recycling service for free since 2006. In her email, Lynn said the city was not considering setting up a business fund to help pay for the service.