Highland County Recycling Program Pays Off
Monterey, VA – Highland County’s recycling program was started in 1986 and is now entering its 25th year of operation. Neighboring counties view it as a model of efficiency and several groups of county officials have come to tour the operation over the years. According to Richard Waybright, manager of the Highland County land fill and solid waste disposal program, the county has met the state guidelines every year since he took over the job in 1999.
In that year, the county recycled 22% of its solid waste. Since Highland County’s land fill stopped accepting solid waste 15 years ago, all of Highland’s trash is hauled to Augusta County at a cost of $45 per ton. So any material that can go to recycling programs will reduce the amount that has to be hauled away thereby reducing costs to the county.
In addition, markets for recycled materials sometimes actually bring income to the county doubling the benefits of recycling. Waybright says in 2007, the county paid $7000.00 to have metal waste hauled away. When they switched over to recycling those metals, that trend reversed, with the county taking in $11,000.00 in revenue in 2008, and $22,000.00 overall for the last three years for the metal that’s been sold.
Another factor that has affected the county recycling program is that the high market for metals has provided incentive for people to haul their own waste metals to recyclers to make some extra money. It turns out that the county can still get credit for this personal recycling if people will bring in their paperwork and receipts from their own recycling, so Mr. Waybright can record the information. Paper recycling at the land fill has actually decreased some in recent years as businesses such as Ernie’s market have closed and others like the Dollar Store have started recycling their own cardboard.
The number of tires coming in for recycling has changed significantly over the past 11 years, because there is now a fee to recycle the tires. Despite that, the recycling program still receives about 37 tons of tires each year.
“We do have a good program here” says Waybright. “We take in glass, plastic, paper, tires; you name it, we pretty well can take care of anything up here.”
In addition to accepting recyclables at the land fill, a recycling trailer is hauled to Blue Grass, Mill Gap, Bolar and McDowell each month for county residents to fill with their materials. The combination of reducing the county’s trash volume and being paid for recycling some materials saves the county about $24,000 each year. If you have questions about the Highland County recycling program, call the office in Monterey at 468-2925.