The Cost and Use of Money for the Management of Solid Waste in Teton County Idaho

In follow up to a recent Solid Waste Fee Town Hall Meeting, below is more insight about the cost associated with operating the waste management system and services in Teton County Idaho. Addressing all misconceptions in a written piece is near impossible, but we have selected a few key topics to provide more clarity on how residents’ money is used for solid waste management.

A common misconception - residents think they are paying for the same waste management service more than once, which is not the case and the below identifies the costs to residents and the use of the monies.

  • Solid Waste Fee (County) – These monies pay for having the physical assets of the Teton County Transfer Station. The funds are used by Teton County for such costs as the bond payment for owning the Transfer Station Property, its buildings, equipment, and future infrastructure planning. Owning any property has cost, which typically includes general property repairs, maintenance, infrastructure replacement, improvement, etc. This fee also covers a pretty big legacy issue of managing and monitoring the closure of the old Teton County landfill.
  • Tipping Fees (County) - This is the fee paid when crossing the scales at the Transfer Station. These fees cover operational costs to process the waste as it comes across the scales such as labor, fuel, equipment repairs and maintenance as well as the transportation to and disposal at the Circular Butte Landfill (which is ~87-miles away!)
  • Curbside Service (RAD) rates are associated with the convenience of curbside collection and include the County tipping fees. Like any hauling company, curbside service requires trucks, labor, fuel, maintenance, insurance and all the typical overhead of running a small business such as administration and customer service. A common question heard - “Why isn’t recycling collection free? Don’t you get paid for recyclable materials?” – The revenue from selling the recyclable materials does not currently cover the costs of providing the operation of trucks and trailers coming to each resident’s home. The valley’s population is spread out and, for the most part, has a rural dirt road system, therefore making curbside service expensive.

Financial Reality for RAD

The only revenue to RAD is from subscribers’ service rates. (*RAD does NOT receive any revenue from the local governments nor does RAD sell any recyclable materials) The reality, RAD’s operational overhead include several costs paid to Teton County

  • $76/ton tipping fee upon delivery for household landfill-bound waste
  • $210/ton upon delivery of Construction and Demolition waste
  • $10/ton in franchise fees for landfill-bound waste
  • $15/ton* to deliver recyclable materials

*So…why is there a tipping fee on recycling? Because the revenue from selling the recyclables materials does not cover all the processing costs incurred to prepare it for a commodity buyer. However, even with these costs, revenue from recycling makes recycling 75% less expensive than landfilling.

Waste management in Teton County is expanding operationally since recycling represents such a significant economic opportunity (in operational cost-savings, not profit).

Recycling is ~75% less expensive than landfilling, recycling operations have also created 5-times more local year-round, living-wage jobs in Teton Valley. In 2016, our community achieved a 32% which caused over $280,000 in cost-savings due reduced overhead and revenue from sold recyclables. And still, over half of the material currently being landfilled could be recycled or diverted. Diversion empowers our community economically by minimizing our dependence on something we have little control over such as tipping costs at Circular Butte Landfill. It is beneficial to use the cost-savings associated with recycling to employ our residents and re-invest that money back into our local economy.

On a different note - ARE YOU “SELF-HAULING” BECAUSE YOU THINK YOUR SAVING MONEY? – It’s time you break down the real cost of your time going to the transfer station – read our blog post which includes a simple math equation to help you compare self-hauling vs. curbside service -  Give RAD a call 208.220.7721 or send us an email to inquire about service, especially recycling!  

Thanks for being RAD, Teton Valley, we love living here.

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