The changing marketplace for recyclables could mean changes in the area’s recycling, Bedford County Planning Director Donald Schwartz said.
At the Bedford County Planning Commission’s monthly meeting, held via Zoom, Schwartz said an Oct. 21 meeting of the Bedford County Solid Waste Advisory Committee was briefed on the changing dynamics of recycling and its effect on the program’s finances.
At that meeting, John Wood, solid waste consultant for Barton & Loguidice, said that a few years go recyclers used to receive $20 to $30 per ton at a Hagerstown, Maryland facility. That has changed to the point that now they must pay the facility $60 to $70 per ton to accept their loads.
The Solid Waste Authority is making up the difference, Schwartz said, but that can’t continue indefinitely.
“The issue of sustainability keeps coming up,” he said. “It’s simply not sustainable.”
There have been ongoing discussions about possible solutions, including implementing a recycling sustainability fee that would be added to trash bills.
“The number of options gets very limited,” Schwartz said, noting that unless something is done soon, some of the recycling sites may have to be removed.
“Within the next couple of months, certainly,” Schwartz said, adding that it’s a matter of “which sites and when.”
On the positive side, Schwartz said, advisory committee members were informed that there was enough capacity at the landfills to meet anticipated needs for the next 10 years.
More on solar
At the commission’s October meeting, Schwartz advised members to be prepared for the emergence of solar farms as an issue in the future. He and senior planner Rick Suder on Nov. 6 attended a meeting of the County Planning Directors Association of Pennsylvania that included a presentation on solar energy development.
Schwartz reiterated that it’s sure to be a major issue in the coming years, calling it “no longer pie in the sky stuff.”
He observed that preliminary discussions had been held on more than 20 potential projects in Bedford County. While he conceded that not all of them would ever come to fruition, if they were, collectively they would generate 200 megawatts of electricity. He compared that to the now-shuttered Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg which generated 1,000 megawatts.
“That’s 20% or 30% of a nuclear plant’s output,” he observed.
None of the projects has gone beyond the informal discussion stage at this point, he said.
“You hear talk. It’s kind of hearsay,” he said.
But, he warned, that can change fairly rapidly.
“There are only so many sites that will meet all of their requirements,” he said. “But when they do, they are being very aggressive about getting them built.”