09/08/06 — Haulers aren't happy about fines for cardboard

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Haulers aren't happy about fines for cardboard

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 8, 2006 1:48 PM

County officials say that in just a little more than a week after the new cardboard ban went into effect at the Wayne County landfill, they have seen an improvement.

But, they added, they have also seen their fair share of the unwanted product still in some landfill users' trash.

Wayne Solid Waste Director Lloyd Cook said the public has been very cooperative since the corrugated cardboard ban went into effect last Friday, but fees have already been issued to two hauling companies for dumping the cardboard into the landfill's underground plastic-lined cells.

Corrugated cardboard, which is the material that creates the boxes for new appliances and other products, takes up the most space in the landfill's cells. This becomes a problem when Wayne County residents and businesses throw away 525 tons of waste per day, Cook said.

The space taken up by corrugated cardboard could be used for waste that needs to be buried at the landfill. Residents and businesses could also save money by recycling cardboard and other goods, Cook said.

Each 20-acre landfill cell costs $5 million to build and should hold about five years worth of waste, Cook said. Those cells are operated from $23 per ton tipping fees instead of taxpayers' property taxes. But, he said, that tipping fee, which is the lowest in the state, could increase if residents and businesses dump more recyclable goods at the landfill.

Cook said he hopes the cardboard ban will be the first step in limiting waste and keeping costs low. But the people and businesses who dump corrugated cardboard at the landfill have already found out that ignoring the rules comes with a price.

Beginning last Friday, the landfill charged each load with corrugated cardboard a $200 fee for the first offense. If another load from the same company or person included cardboard, the fee increased to $400. After that, any other offense carried a $600 fee, Cook said.

Some haulers say that while encouraging recycling is good, assessing fines against haulers who simply transport the trash is not fair.

"I thought it would be a $200 fine for each (truck, even if it belongs to the same company)," said Bill Hammond, Waste Industries branch manager. "Everybody has known the ban was coming, and I think it's a good idea, but they're fining the hauler and not the customer (who is throwing away the cardboard)."

Since the ban went into effect, three Waste Industries trucks have been fined for bringing cardboard into the landfill, Cook said. Any subsequent violations will cost the company $600 each, Hammond said.

Since the waste haulers, such as Waste Industries and Onslow Container Services, are the landfill's customers, Cook said the landfill only does business with those companies. Any costs incurred by the haulers could be passed along to their customers, which include local residents and businesses.

But that can be difficult to determine, said Al Hill, manager of Onslow Container Services.

"They charge the haulers and not the customers. We have 400 accounts in Wayne County. Some trucks may have as many as 50 accounts inside, and you can't tell who threw the cardboard inside. We have to eat that cost ourselves," Hill said.

In some instances, a truck only has the waste from one customer. This allows the company to pass the fee along to the customer, Hill said. But that usually is the exception rather than the rule, he added.

"When we go to the landfill, we have to pay the strongest penalty system of the 19 counties we serve," Hill said.

Many residents who live in apartments can expect to see costs added to their rent if their neighbors continue to throw away cardboard. Managers at Oak Brook, Laurel Pointe and Bramblewood apartments said they have designated cardboard trash containers for their residents. If residents choose not to use them, they will pay the fine, Laurel Pointe site manager A.J. Newell said.

"I have 80 units, so I have to split the costs 80 ways. I have no way to tell who did it, so everybody has to pay," Newell aid.

If a hauler is charged for the cardboard a tenant throws away, Bramblewood manager Shelby Person said the company will eventually want restitution. That money has to come from the residents, she added.

But residents and businesses can avoid the added costs by simply following the rules, Oak Brook manager Kim Parrish said.

"It's real easy. You just break it down and put it in the dumpster," Ms. Parrish said.

Residents can also recycle their waste at any of the county's 13 recycling convenience centers, Cook said. Each site accepts corrugated cardboard, and the sites also have containers for recycling plastic bottles, glass, aluminum cans, motor oil, batteries and other recyclable goods.

Convenience centers are located in Pikeville, Rosewood, Patetown, N.C. 111, Mitchell Road, Dudley, Eureka, Fremont, Grantham, Indian Springs, Jordan Chapel, Seven Springs and on U.S. 13.

Wayne Opportunity Center also recycles cardboard.

Another should be constructed off of Durham Lake Road near the landfill sometime during the next year. The Wayne Board of Commissioners approved conveying about 10 acres of land to Bryant's Recycling Inc. on Tuesday for the purpose of building a new recycling center.

For more information about the cardboard ban, recycling or the county's convenience centers, call the Solid Waste Department at 689-2994.