The county's decision to pay Browning Ferris Industries $61 a ton toprocess recyclables beginning in June, has offended operators of theSusquehannock Environmental Center Inc.
The Board of Estimates awarded BFI a contract last week to sort Harford's recyclables and takethem to market when the county's volunteer trash recycling program begins in June.
But, Bob Chance, founder and president of the non-profit recycling and environmental education center in Bel Air, says the center could provide the service at lower cost -- and has been doing the job forfree for 20 years.
"It's kind of a bitter pill to swallow. We're hoping the county will consider paying us for our processing," Chancesaid.
"We've been saying for a long time that a $15-per-ton fee would be well-deserved."
If Harford provides the amount of tonnage predicted, the contract could be worth an estimated $285,480.
Bob Chance, founder and president of Susquehannock, said, "We recycled 3,000 tons in 1991, and we're not paid like BFI."
County administrators estimate that BFI will handle 4,680 tons of recyclables next year.
The money paid BFI will come from a new $35-per-ton fee charged to trash haulers for garbage taken to the county's solid waste landfill or the waste-to-energy plant.
Haulers will pass the added cost on to customers.
How the recyclables will get to BFI's plant in Linthicum, near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport won't beclear until a bid is awarded for that job.
Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, said the county will take separate bids beginning this week to see who will transport the recyclables to BFI.
Under the agreement approved by the Board of Estimates, BFI will ready Harford's recyclables for market and sell them, turning the money made from sales back to the county, said Joseph Patti, a county purchasing agent.
The county will monitor the company's books, Patti said.
"We decided to take proposals from companies that were already inthe business," said Klimovitz.
The arrangement with BFI would be temporary until the county built it's own center where recyclables could be prepared for sale, said Klimovitz.
"There's just no way anyone can build a processing center between now and June," said Klimovitz.
"We asked the companies to bid on both processing and transporting the recyclables, but after looking at the bids, we thought we could get a better price on the transportation costs by taking bids separately."
Patti said two other companies bid on the project.
One of those dropped out of the bidding, and a third company, CRINC, part of the Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Recycling, offered to handle county recyclables for $87.91 a ton.
The recycling program, passed last month by the County Council, calls for trash haulers to collect recyclables such as glass, newspapers, plastic bottles and metal cansthat have been placed in blue plastic bags at homeowners' curbs.
"Once the material is dropped off at its facility in Linthicum, BFI will separate the glass, plastic and other items," said Patti.
Revenue from the sale of recyclable materials will be turned back to the county, said Patti.
Patti predicts the county won't see much profit.
"The market is depressed right now, and it's hard to sell some items," Patti said.
Chance said the prices recyclables bring vary week to week.
For example, Chance said recycled aluminum sells for35 cents to 50 cents a pound; clear glass averages $35 to $50 per ton; newspaper, which for a long time hasn't brought in any money, may bring $5 a ton "if it's nicely baled."
Patti said the depressed market is "just something we have to live with until the economy picks up. Then I think we'll see more firms interested in buying recyclables.
"Right now, companies are laying people off, and they're not manufacturing items that require these materials."
Klimovitz said the contract with BFI will save the county money because it doesn't require the county to supply a minimum amount of recyclables.
"This is a yearly contract, and if we don't send one bag, we don't owe them anything," said Klimovitz.