Hope losing a recycling option

Mark Webber | The Republic Hope’s recycling container will be removed after town officials said it was too expensive to keep it.

HOPE – Hope is removing a recycling container after town officials said it was too expensive to keep it in operation.

When the community of 2,100 residents first put in a recycling station off Mill Street in May 2019, the town paid $5,530 a month, town manager Jason Eckart said.

But in 2020, that price jumped to $12,640. It then increased to $18,525 in 2021 before rising to $24,214 last year, Eckart said.

“The increase from $4,000 to nearly 25 grand is unsustainable,” town council member Shanon Pittman said. “I think we need to give our residents notice (that it will be removed), so they can make their adjustments.”

Council president Ohmer Miller asked that the town wait until the end of April to remove it. No other council member disagreed.

The nearest recycling facility will be the Petersville Convenience Station, located seven miles from Hope along East 25th Street. The facility is open Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It’s not a matter of switching companies for a better deal. Bartholomew County Solid Waste District Director Heather Siesel says every recycling company is fighting the same high costs.

Two of the largest factors are higher fuel and labor costs, Siesel said. In addition, most recyclable material today is collected co-mingled, which forces a community to pay a fee to have it unsorted, she said. Another problem is that the prices for purchasing recyclable material is down, she said.

“What we used to get about a year ago was $150 per ton for cardboard,” Siesel said. “But now, we’re getting $40 a ton.”

While the recycling container becomes full every 10 days, there were four dumps in the month of January, Eckart said. Due largely to conventional and online packaging for Christmas gifts, it cost the town $2,042 just to have the container that month, he said.

The town manager also says there are some options he received from Waste Management.

  • Enact mandatory recycling that will add another $6.50 a month to the monthly bill from the Hope Utilities office.
  • Use surveys in an effort to recruit a minimum of 300 residents willing to pay an additional $9 per month for curbside recycling at their home.

But since there are 820 homes in the community, Pittman and Eckart expressed doubts they could get 36.6% of all Hope residences to sign up for the $9 option.

“And I’m sure not every homeowner would want to pay an additional $6.50 a month if we made it mandatory,” Eckart said. “But I don’t want to deprive the town of the responsibility of recycling. It’s very important in today’s society.”

Another option might be bringing in a recycling bin one Saturday a month, Eckart said.

Hope Utilities Superintendent David Clouse suggested a bin exclusively for cardboard because it is the top recyclable material received. Although prices are down, Clouse said there’s still a market for it.

When asked if out-of-town residents are currently using the recycling container, Clouse said he’s only aware of a few residents of Schaefer Lake.