Garbutt plans to close Lochlin recycling facility
By Sue Tiffin
The Lochlin recycling facility will potentially close at the end of summer, unless the municipality decides to take it on.
Garbutt Disposal has run the Minden Hills facility for approximately 15 years, recycling mixed paper and corrugated cardboard, but plans to close after this summer.
“What we are here for this morning is to discuss a little about the recycling problem that’s taking place in Canada, not only in Minden Hills, but it’s a crisis,” Jim Garbutt told council in a delegation on May 30.
Garbutt told council that flooded markets and lack of demand were resulting in “higher processing fees to compensate for the loss in revenue.”
“It’s been running along reasonably well until [the past few years] where we’ve had so many problems with sorting and carrying on so the product is clean enough to ship and get out to Toronto,” he said. “...We are at the point where we are going to close that very shortly, mainly because we’ve lost a lot of money over this couple of years, trying to do this, to keep it locally and we just can’t absorb the loss because we’re in business to make money.”
Garbutt said he has done extensive research to assess expenses. He said it costs $105 for Garbutt Disposal to process one ton of baled corrugated cardboard, but that the best price currently available is $90 per ton, resulting in a $15 loss per ton. He said recently he received $60 per ton, and that some places are now charging to accept it.
“The last load of mixed paper we sent out, on a 53-foot trailer, all baled and everything, it took us two weeks for us to find a location where we could take it,” he said. “Of course we had to get rid of it. We had it in a trailer, sitting in Lindsay, it was refused one time. It ends up that we got $0 for it, which resulted in about a $3,000 loss to us in one load. This is just an example of what’s going on.”
Garbutt said this is the reason his company has chosen to eliminate the mixed paper portion at the Lochlin recycling facility. Corrugated cardboard recycling can continue at the site, but would require a processing fee of $100 per ton, which is comparable to most other facilities he said.
“We’ll try to go through the summer because this is a bad time for all this to happen,” he said.
In a letter to council, he said the increased processing fee would “keep us through the upcoming busy season and then we would see if it is feasible to continue.”
Additionally, it has also been challenging, Garbutt said, to haul cans and recyclables to a recycling facility in Bracebridge.
“The last two summers there’s been twice where their line has broke down over there, and all of a sudden they can’t accept things for three or four days,” he said. “If they add the paper and stuff to them too, well that can be a real disaster. We’re willing to continue doing the cardboard, we’re already shipping the paper to Bracebridge, but we just couldn’t afford to lose another $3,000 load.”
Garbutt Disposal has been paying the invoice for processing fees in Bracebridge - approximately $35,000 in 2018 - and being reimbursed by the township, but moving forward has requested the township be directly invoiced to avoid wait time.
The only way Garbutt could see the Lochlin recycling facility being feasible, he said, is if the township ran the plant, having control over processing fees for paper and cardboard.
“The facility over there is all set up to do this,” he said. “As a private company we can’t continue to do it. I’m not a big fan of municipality’s taking things over, but the only reason I’m putting this forward is because it could control what the maximum processing fees could be for our township for years to come.”
Should the facility close, Garbutt said Garbutt Disposal would require a location at the Minden Hills landfill to put the cardboard it collects from Minden businesses.
“As of now our compactor truck dumps directly at our facility and this material never even sees the landfill site,” his letter to council states.
“China has closed their doors, now the Philippines, a lot of places are closing their doors to everyone including Canada, [and it’s] all back to us,” said Garbutt. “Being a small municipality, I’m here to just say, we have to expect a lot higher costs for the recycling, there’s no way around it.”
Mayor Brent Devolin said it was “sad but not surprising,” and said the topic is the “elephant in the room” for many municipal politicians but that Garbutt had offered much for council and staff to digest for plans on how to proceed.
Councillor Pam Sayne said she would appreciate accessing the extensive research Garbutt had collected.
“I’ve gone to some of these places in the Philippines, like Smokey Mountain, and visited those communities and we have a global crisis here,” she said, noting jobs were also at stake in our own community.
Garbutt said summer was “fast approaching,” and the issue was not as big as the spring flooding issue, but that it was still an issue and a decision was needed so he knew how to proceed. He clarified the discussion strictly focused on Garbutt Disposal’s recycling facility, not their waste disposal services.