Montgomery recycling partnership works to expand commodity sales

Updated: Feb. 4, 2020 at 7:26 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The City of Montgomery’s recycling plant and its household waste is getting a second life in North Montgomery. RePower South kicked off its operation a year ago offering clean, sustainable options for household waste. Montgomery purchased the facility after the first company failed due to the lack of overall household trash and low commodity prices.

“We entered into agreement with RePower South to accept our household garbage and we’re still in it a year later,” stated Montgomery Public Works Director Chris Conway. “So far, so good.”

Whether residents realize it or not the bulk of their trash is recycled and sold by RePower South as a commodity.

“That’s their expertise, and our expertise is collecting garbage and getting it out there to them,” Conway said.

There’s no money exchanged between the city and RePower South. They operate out of the city’s plant in exchange for recycling the city’s trash and saving significant landfill space. Only items that can’t be recycled through an expanded filtering system are taken to landfill.

“Landfilling, our only alternative other than what they do for us, is an expensive proposition,” said Conway. “We’re very interested in making sure they’re successful. If they’re successful, then our partnership continues and we have less air space taken up in our landfill. That’s kind of been the goal from day one.”

RePower South says they have buyers for every commodity. What can’t be recycled is converted to clean fuel that can be substituted for coal. We’re told they’re close to securing a contract with an in-state buyer. The commodity markets are cyclical and currently on a downward trend. The clean fuel can help sustain the operation during the down-market periods.

“It’s cutting-edge technology that might just be the future of where these things are going,” Conway stated.

Now they’re working with other cities and businesses to recycle their waste. Over the last six months, recycling bins for sorted plastic, aluminum, paper, and cardboard are open in front of the facility for those who live outside the city limits, at an apartment, or who prefer to sort their recyclables.

“All over the country, there are less and less places to take those types of commodities,” Conway explained. “They’re uniquely situated right here in the center of a lot of routes that pass through the Montgomery area, whether it be from Mississippi to Georgia, or, Mobile northward.”

Conway reminds residents that the green bins are for household waste only. Old clothing items and yard debris should be placed on the side of the road for the once-weekly yard trash pickup cycle which goes to a different landfill that’s less expensive to maintain. Those items are proving difficult for the recycling plant to process as well.

“Those sorts of things have been kind of one of the flies in the ointment to the process because people are throwing things in there that typically wouldn’t go into a household waste stream,” he said. "Those things should be on the yard trash waste streamside.”

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