Recycling catches on, but key area recycler may be calling it quits
The Green Team of Carbon County has for the last few years brought a lot of change to Carbon County including their main work of expanding recycling options for residents all around the county.
But after bringing plenty of change to the area, the Green Team may be undergoing plenty of change themselves.
Over the past few weeks, the Green Team has learned that Kris Kiahtipes, current Chairperson of the Carbon County Green Team, announced she was leaving the area. Also, Loren Unsworth, who regularly cleans out the recycling trailers and helps store the recyclables at a warehouse he owns on Airport Road, told the Green Team he was going to stop allowing drop-offs at his warehouse at the end of this month in addition to stepping down from his position at the end of June.
A message recently spread through social media from the Green Team stated that they were in danger of having to close down. Kiahtipes said the rumor about the Green Team closing down is a very real possibility.
"The Green Team is in danger of closing down," Kiahtipes said. "We're actively looking for someone to fill in Loren's position but the interest for that job isn't out there right now."
The Green Team will talk about these topics as well other business during a meeting on Wednesday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at Price City Hall.
Unsworth told the Sun Advocate in an interview on Thursday that the time and effort required for the work have gone up over the years. Unsworth said he averaged anywhere between 15 to 20 hours of work recycling per week. Compounding the problem is that the money collected recycling paper and other materials has decreased significantly.
"I just can't continue do this anymore," Unsworth said. "There's a lot of time and work needed to do this job during the week and the money coming in is not enough to help cover all of the work I put into this."
Green Team board member Ryan Peterson said the group has been searching for help to fill the vacancy for over two months.
"Saying the Green Team will quit is not accurate," Peterson explained. "We've got everything in place with the trailers and the numbers with people recycling for this to work. We just need to find someone to fill that spot."
When he first started working in the recycling business four years ago, Unsworth said the price for a ton of recycled paper was $90 per ton. Now the current price is anywhere between $40 to $50 per ton, he said.
"Unfortunately there's not much to be made from doing a job like this," said Unsworth.
Cardboard, which is another big recyclable material, must be separated from the other materials and needs to be compacted with a baler. That necessitates the extra work that has continued to pile up over the years, Unsworth said.
With the amount of recyclable materials and the number of people who actively recycle, Unsworth said it takes about five weeks to fill up a tractor trailer with recyclables. When the trailer is filled, Rocky Mountain Recycling will come to his warehouse to pick up the filled trailer while dropping off an empty one.
Under the current agreement, Unsworth said he will continue to regularly clean out the 10 recycling trailers placed around the county through the end of June.
Unsworth said if someone else steps into his current position, they will need to have storage space and the equipment to be able to fulfill the duties of the job. His warehouse on Airport Road also houses materials for his other business venture, Castle Country Salt & Water.
While the money may be decreasing for recyclables, the amount of materials recycled have continued to rise every year, according to Unsworth. He estimated that the amount of recycling has increased from 70 tons in the first year to over 120 tons last year.
"It's increased a lot in the area since this was started," Unsworth said.
If no one is able to step in and help out with the storage of recycling, Peterson said the Green Team may stop collecting recyclable materials at their trailers. The trailers would be put into storage until further notice, Peterson said.
"I'm worried about all of the effort a lot of people have put into this work over the years and seeing it all go away," he said. "It would be sad to see that happen."
Rick Davis, a Price City council member who works as a liaison with the Green Team, said while there is a lot to work on with people leaving their current positions, he suggested that they take things one at a time, starting with discussing the issues at Wednesday's meeting, and do research on what can be done to continue providing the service to the community.
Unsworth said deciding to stop assisting with the recycling operation was a tough decision to make but he didn't see how he could continue working through June.
"I've lost some sleep over this," said Unsworth. "It was a very difficult decision to make."
While the Green Team is searching all available options, Peterson said he is hopeful that the recycling operation will not close down. If it does, he believes it will be much more difficult to get another recycling project going.
"I think it will become so much more difficult to start things back up again if we stop because this situation would be in the back of everyone's mind," he said.