2024 Price Adjustments

Orcas Recycling Services (ORS), Orcas Island’s non-profit waste management company, has received approval for adjustments to its trash and recycling tipping fees which will establish its rate structure for the next five years.

In early February 2024, Executive Director Pete Moe appeared before the County Council to discuss fees charged by ORS for handling waste and recyclables. On March 12, the County Council approved the new rates by unanimous vote.

Approval was granted because, in the Council’s words, “ORS is proposing to raise some rates while also significantly lowering others to incentivize recycling, such as by collecting clean separated recyclables free of charge.”

In thanking the County Council, Moe stated, “Our revised fee structure, as adopted by the county, will place mission above making a profit. Our customers will always save money by recycling.”

ORS’s fees have remained unchanged since 2018. Inflationary pressures since that date have driven consumer prices up by more than 15%, The adjustment sought by ORS at this time calls for an increase in fees for garbage and mixed recycling, while reducing the cost of several recyclable items to zero.

“Recycling efficiently is part of our mission. We want to reward households that help by separating cardboard, aluminum, and glass by accepting those materials for free,” Moe told the council.

At the same time the costs of managing garbage and mixed recycling have skyrocketed. To cover those costs, prices for garbage and mixed recycling will increase.  Under the new rates, a can of garbage will rise from $12 to $14, and a can of mixed recycling will rise from $7 to $9.

In accord with the goal of incentivizing separation of recyclables, it will soon be free for households to drop off glass, cardboard, and aluminum.

Other materials that can be currently brought in for free include lead-acid car batteries, Christmas trees, spent fluorescent tubes, latex and oil-based paints, and many electronics like TVs, computers, and monitors.

The new prices went into effect on April 25, 2024.

ORS recycles approximately 600 tons of material annually, and 450 tons of that is mixed recycling, according to Moe. Mixed or “co-mingled” recycling is shipped to the mainland and separated in a “Materials Recycling Facility” or “MRF.” An MRF typically recovers less than 75 percent of the material it receives. The rest is landfilled.

“We know that when uncontaminated materials like cardboard, aluminum, and steel are separated they will be recycled at a rate of 95 percent or more,” says Moe. “Separation makes a huge difference in recycling.”

“Part of what made these new price cuts possible is the construction of a new Baler Facility at ORS,” says Moe. The new equipment will allow ORS to bale aluminum, cardboard, and other materials, and will dramatically improve the operation by minimizing the number of trucks hauling material back to the mainland. Once the baler is up and running ORS will immediately begin baling cardboard and aluminum and plans to add mixed paper and plastics to the process, in time.

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