SOUTHINGTON — Residents could see a potential increase in trash pickup fees due to new charges from the facility contracted to collect recyclables from the towns’ commercial haulers.
Town Manager Mark Sciota said the Bristol Resource Recovery Facility Operating Committee is in litigation with the company, Murphy Road Recycling, to fight new tipping fees the committee considers unfair.
Southington is one of 14 area communities that is part of the Bristol Resource Recovery Facility Operating Committee (BRRFOC) , which oversees a contract with Covanta Bristol, Inc. for trash disposal and a contract with Murphy Road Recycling for recycling disposal.
“The reason why this is in front of you is eventually those bills are going to show what’s happening right now. I’m not sure that the three major contractors will be able to hold their prices,” Sciota told residents at Monday’s Town Council meeting.
Southington is affected by fees because it is the only town in the group that operates recycling by subscription.
In 2014, the committee entered a five-year agreement with Murphy Road Recycling “to handle the residentially collected curbside (recyclables)... process those materials, market them, and return to the towns $9 a ton to all the materials returned to Murphy Recycling,” according to Mark Bobman, BRRFOC executive director.
The three waste and recycling haulers in town are HQ Dumpsters & Recycling, All Waste, and Waste Material Trucking.
According to a letter obtained by the Record-Journal, which was sent to HQ Dumpsters & Recycling on Aug. 1, Murphy Road Recycling stated that as of July 1, all recyclables originating from Southington schools and town buildings will continue without a tipping fee charge.
However, any other materials originating from the towns will face a $70 per ton tipping fee.
The letter stipulates that the recyclables from town-owned facilities cannot be mixed with other materials, which Sciota said Tuesday would be impossible for haulers to do.
Murphy Road Recycling did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
Jack Perry, owner of HQ, said the fees could be around $3 per month. He said the company is actively trying to mitigate the potential increase by using other collection facilities, which have cheaper usage fees.
Perry said he takes pride in only needing to raise prices a dollar over the last 10 years he’s been owner. He said residents were upset about the dollar increase, and he worries how people will react to a sudden $3 increase that he said would be out of his control.
“We’ve mitigated an increase, but it's still a very big increase to us,” Perry said.
Waste Material Trucking president Mark Zommer said they will “absolutely” need to raise prices.
“We had no idea it was coming,” Zommer said. He said for the last two decades, dumping recyclables had no fees, making this new $70 per ton charge substantial.
Bobman said the market is seeing a big change due to China’s standards for recycling imports becoming more and more restrictive.
“It’s very much a concern for the business models of the commercial haulers, it's a concern for the residents who may lose an opportunity to affordably have their recyclables picked up and… I believe it’s a discriminatory action,” he said.
Sciota said the current BRRFOC contract ends June 30, 2019. A process will begin late this year or early next to choose the group’s next pickup contract.
Sciota said even if the fees can be resolved for this year, it’s likely new fees will be involved in the new contract.
“The waste industry is definitely changing,” Perry said. “I have a feeling that there’s going to be an increase anyway. Right now recyclables are more expensive than trash to haul.”