Residents will have to find a new place to handle their recyclables, after the Web-Co Custom Industries board announced that it is closing the recycling program, effective Nov. 1.
The board voted to discontinue the recycling program during its Sept. 23 meeting. Mike Frazier, general manager of Web-Co Custom Industries, explained more about the decision.
"The rural market is gone," said Frazier. "China has closed the doors, and the petroleum pricing has dropped. It’s cheaper to make a new box out of a tree than a recycled box. It’s cheaper to make a new plastic bottle out of petroleum than it is to recycle plastic. Mixed paper has no value, so it gets thrown away, but you have to pay $7 a ton to throw it away. Aluminum has dropped to 40 cents a pound. Tin’s dropped to 85 cents a ton."
Their cost to process a bale of cardboard (it takes two bales to make a ton) is $75 in labor, according to Frazier, and he sells that for $25. It takes 46 bales to fill a truck, and every time Frazier sends out a truck he is losing up to $1,150 — three times a month. And that’s every month.
“We just don’t have the reserve to lose $50,000 to $60,000 a year for five more years,” said Frazier. “That’s the point blank.”
Frazier said they tried to make some changes. They went out to the businesses and put fees in for pickups.
“Most of the businesses agreed with that, but the city didn’t have it in their budget and the schools won’t have it in their budget, so that didn’t help,” said Frazier. “The city didn’t want to offset recycling. The county doesn’t have pickups for recycling, but they already help us with glass. It’s just a pure business point. It doesn’t make sense to lose $40,000 to $60,000 a year multiple years.”
That being said, employees will still keep their jobs with no cuts in pay. Frazier explained they will bring in new production back in the area where recycling is. If recycling comes back, he said, they will have the machinery to do it again.
“We’ll try to go out and work with McCormick Foods and other customers that we have and try to find new production to fill that space,” said Frazier. “New packaging, steam heat tunnels and more assembly work; more kitting with American Products. They have some more projects for us with their changes, so we can do that to fill the void.”
Many factors contributed to the change. According to Frazier, people aren’t used to sorting out their recyclables and they’re not keeping it clean, which requires more labor. Plastic bags have to be removed or what Web-Co sells down the road gets rejected and sent back to them.
“There was a clean campaign,” said Frazier. “We were ready to do a campaign on how to clean, but it just doesn’t make sense to lose that amount of money. The volume won’t make it up. It’s just more loss than not.”
People who want to recycle their items can bring them to Springfield. The Springfield City Utilities is still offsetting and keeping their recycling going, according to Frazier. He noted Branson, Bolivar, Rogersville, Nixa and Willard closed their recycling program, so Springfield will be the only place to recycle for now until the market changes. Frazier explained one of the reasons for the market decline is a result of China shutting down its importation of recycled materials.
“We put so much trash in the recycling we’re sending them,” said Frazier. “They’re becoming a trash dump. China warned us to clean up our recycling. We took the easy way out, and then China just dropped the doors.”
As a result of the Web-Co Custom Industries decision, Frazier said he feels they’re going to have to cable off the front of its building in Marshfield, due to the trash people will dump.
“We already get dumpings,” said Frazier. “We have to pay for TVs and certain microwaves and stuff people will just dump on us. We get bags of trash. We get bags of insulation and asphalt tiles. We get all the stuff we don’t recycle and they already dump it. I’m afraid that when we cable this up and put signs up, we’ll become a trash site for a while. It’ll take a lot of work.”
The $2,500 grant Web-Co Custom Industries received from the Marshfield Area Community Foundation (MACF) will be returned to MACF president Alan Thomas next week, according to Frazier.
“Even though the grant was used to pay expenses, that wasn’t the intent, so we feel like it’s only right to give that money back,” said Frazier.
The recycling program began with Warren Beck, who started it with the county and city. Web-Co Custom Industries took it over eight years ago, according to Frazier. It’s a labor intensive market and the company picks up for Niangua, Fordland, Rogersville, Seymour and Rader, along with 20 businesses in Marshfield.
“As of Nov. 1, all of the recycling will go to the landfill,” said Frazier. “This was mentioned in the meeting, but the state came down and told us we needed to get out of recycling. Right now, we’re lucky to get $25 a ton. There’s some places paying for that cardboard to be taken, so you’re losing a full $75. This isn’t just a problem in Missouri, but it’s a nationwide problem.”
Frazier added Web-CoCustom Industries looking for another verse year and try to bring in more new jobs and money into Marshfield and Webster County, along with working with packaging and sewing companies outside of Missouri.