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PI County continues to explore recycling options

ROGERS CITY — Two new ideas to address the cost of Presque Isle County’s recycling program were presented to the county Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.

Commissioner Mike Darga told fellow commissioners they could consider having recyclables in the southern townships of the county delivered to the Resource Recovery Facility in Alpena County, while recyclables in the northern townships would continue to be delivered to Emmet County.

“The hualing alone would be a big savings, and maybe we could save something in getting rid of our recyclables to Resource Recovery versus Emmet County,” he said.

Darga told commissioners the idea came up as part of an informal meeting held by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, in collaboration with the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments, to discuss the recycling markets. Presque Isle and other counties were part of the meeting.

Darga said the group plans to meet quarterly.

Darga said he also plans to meet with Diane Renkowski, executive director of NEMCOG, and other recycling representatives to see if it would be feasible for the Presque Isle County to obtain a grant to purchase its own truck to service the county’s recycling drop-off containers.

Recycling programs in Michigan received a boost late last year when lawmakers and former Gov. Rick Snyder increased funding from $2 million to $15 million.

Presque Isle County’s recycling program is struggling to break even, even after the passage of a property tax increase in 2018, which county officials expected to cover the total cost of the program.

But then the commodities markets dropped, meaning the county was making back less money for the recycling it processed.

The county has a cost-sharing agreement with Emmet County, but the low market prices, especially those for cardboard, mean the county has not been getting the reimbursements it relies upon when the market prices are high.

The county uses those reimbursements to help cover the cost of running the program.

County officials have tried many things to control the cost of the program, including limiting recycling pick-ups to every other week and renegotiating their contract with Emmet County, but its recycling fund ended the year in a deficit.

The county’s recycling program had a $30,863 shortfall, even with the county’s recycling millage increase being levied for the first time.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.