Greater participation means more services

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette A curbside recycling bin like this one for the city of Houghton, is equipped with wheels to make moving it easier, along with a lid to prevent wind from blowing contents around.

HOUGHTON — With the award of a $92,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Quality, along with matching funds, Houghton County Planning Committee’s Copper Country Recycling Initiative sought bidders for a curbside recycling project. Two bidders were Waste Management and Eagle Waste, according to Evan McDonald, co-chairman of the CCRI.

While Waste Management won the contract bids for the cities of Houghton and Hancock, Eagle Waste also took on a vital role, McDonald said.

“Eagle Waste has a a multi-million-dollar recycling processing facility. They’re a single stream thing, so they have the technology to separate and take things apart: glass goes here and plastics go here — they’re getting the recyclables from our community,” McDonald said. “Waste Management hauls it there, because it’s closer,” McDonald said. Waste Management’s nearest recycling facility is in Green Bay, which is a considerably longer drive.

However, as with everything else, in recycling economics is a contributing factor.

“Waste Management got the bid for the cities of Houghton – Hancock. They were separate bids, but they got them. When they put their bids together, they have to figure out what it’s going to cost them; is this going to be profitable and what they have to do, so they’re charging for the pick up service, essentially, and then what they can sell those recyclables for.”

One of the things Eagle Waste was considering was creating satellite location in the local area, McDonald said.

“So, if they picked up some of the outlying villages and townships, and had maybe smaller compactors on site, could they make that go? They would be willing to explore that if there is enough interest here,” McDonald said. “But to make it profitable for them, they have to get enough customers and enough material coming in. They make their money by the volume of material that they’re recovering.”