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10 out of 15 Elkhart County recycling sites will close in the new year

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Two-thirds of Elkhart County’s drop-off recycling sites are set to close at the end of the year. That’s as the county nearly doubles its spending on recycling. 

On Monday, the county commissioners approved a contract extension with Borden Waste-Away for $180,000 more than the previous contract.

 

County Commissioner Brad Rogers said the cost per recycling site has risen from $1,000 to $4,900, a rise Waste-Away sales director Kyle Woolsey said has several sources. 

 

For one, the value of different recycled commodities dropped to roughly 30 percent of their benchmarks in 2018. Woolsey said that the market has recovered somewhat, but the company has to protect the county against a drop in future values.

 

“We are being aggressive in forecasting higher benchmarks for the future because we believe commodities will stay strong,” he said. “But in order to remain a fixed cost to the county, we cannot assume commodity values as they are today.”

 

Woolsey said Waste-Away is also struggling to find CDL drivers due to labor shortages and a “significant, acute surge” in local demand. Labor shortages have also driven up wages for the 36 employees who sort trash from recycling.

 

Closing 10 of the county’s 15 recycling sites is meant to offset those increased costs. Though it’s a steep reduction, Woolsey said many municipalities have had to cancel their recycling programs entirely over the last three years. 

 

“Either on account of the vendor saying, ‘I just can’t do it anymore,’ or on account of the municipality saying, ‘We can’t afford it,’” he said. “So the fact that Elkhart County is still providing recycling to its residents says something about the county.”

 

Only five of the county’s 15 recycling sites will remain open:

  • Cobblestone Crossing shopping center (4000 E. Bristol St., Elkhart)
  • Forks County Line Store (508 E. Warren St., Middlebury)
  • Martin’s Supermarket (1530 E. Market St., Nappanee)
  • Goshen College (1700 S. Main St., Goshen)
  • Martin’s Supermarket (1527 Bashor Rd., Goshen)

The Bashor Road location is temporary – a new site will be constructed at the southeast corner of Wilden and Indiana Avenues, across from the Goshen Wastewater Treatment Plant.
 

John Bowers, the county’s solid waste director, said the remaining five sites were some of the county’s most-used, and offered “some availability to the community to get to a site relatively easily.”

 

When asked by Commissioner Brad Rogers, Bowers said he would be willing to work with communities like New Paris that are losing a county site, but may want to maintain one independently.

 

The county’s remaining 10 sites will close soon after the first of the year.

 

Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.

 

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.