By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Recycling is a good idea, but may no longer be feasible in Del Norte County, according to Jordan Kekry, owner of the countys only recycling center.
Market conditions have gone from bad to worse, Kekry said.
The cost of processing and shipping recycled tin cans and low-grade plastics has risen to the point that profiting from the business has become impossible.
Kekry blames a market flooded with cheap tin and the remoteness of Crescent City.
Because tin must be shipped to Oakland and sometimes East L.A., it takes the space of a double trailer semi to make the trip profitable. But Highway 101 doesnt allow trucks of that size.
Kekry said he fears the tin cans may end up in the landfill if Del Norte County Solid Waste Management Authority doesnt step in to help.
As a city and county government entity, Solid Waste Management must provide outlets for customers to drop off recyclables. There are five drop-off sites throughout the county and Solid Waste Management has contracted Del Norte Disposal to do curbside pick-up of recyclables.
All of those recyclables are processed at Kekrys Julindra center, because his is the only local processing facility.
We think he is doing a great service. Its certainly a benefit to the community, said Kevin Hendrick, director of Solid Waste Management.
Businesswise, its not a smart move, Kekry said, to keep accepting the tin cans from the public. But, I want to keep it out of the landfill.
He wants Hendrick to help find other, more profitable markets for the tin and plastic or to help him ship it out of the county.
I think they should help in moving this product out - for the good of the community. Theyre getting taxpayer dollars and I think a little of that money could go a long way, Kekry said.
In response, Hendrick said Solid Waste Management is seeking truck space for the tin.
The problem is that its a low-value material and it costs money to ship it, Hendrick said.
Furthermore, Hendrick said he is prevented by the state to use state funds to help a for-profit company like Kekrys.
Weve been having this conversation for at least a year. Its up to him to decide what he will and will not take, added Hendrick.
So far, Kekry said profits from other recyclable materials have made up for the losses on shipping the tin. Right now he is holding on to 150,000 pounds of baled-up tin cans because he cant afford to get rid of it.
If the situation doesnt ease up, Im afraid this tin will have to go to the dump, he said.
Kekrys Julindra Recycling Center is still taking tin cans from the public, but he said hes not sure for how long.
As for helping Kekry to continue recycling tin, Hendrick said: It would have to be cost-effective. We will not recycle at all cost.