News

Message from the Executive Director
07/30/2013

    

In recent months you’ve no doubt heard reports of discussions and negotiations between ECUA and the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners related to solid waste management in our community. ECUA has been committed to recycling since the launch of our program in January 2009, and we continue to expand and enhance our program, while seeking innovative ways to contain operational costs and rates. Various news media outlets have weighed-in on the subject. In light of what we believe to be inaccuracies and misinformation, I feel compelled to provide you the following information:

• Recyclable materials collected by the ECUA are indeed being recycled: West Florida Recycling (WFR), an entity with whom ECUA and various other governmental entities contract to accept and process recyclables, and bales these recyclable materials for shipment to end users. WFR operates a recyclables processing facility, not a disposal or landfill site.

• WFR receives no fees from the ECUA for the materials delivered to its facility, the only revenue they receive is through the sale of the recyclables it sorts and ships out. They are motivated to recycle as much material as possible.

• ECUA is not the only agency utilizing the WFR for recyclables processing. In fact, Escambia County, the City of Pensacola, the Escambia County School Board, Santa Rosa County, and many private haulers deliver recyclables to WFR.

• WFR has the only facility providing these services in the region. Were its services not available, the only alternative would be to bury these materials at the County-owned and operated Perdido Landfill. Why bury the materials when they can be recycled -- at a much lower cost?

• WFR manages approximately 135 tons of recyclable materials on a daily basis. The “garbage” reported to have been on the ground (recycling materials), which the media has been concerned about, is a normal component of recycling operations. WFR is cleaning the area as much as possible until it moves to a larger facility. Unfortunately, that move is being complicated and delayed due to an unrelated legal action Escambia County has taken against West Florida Recycling.

• Although the conditions at WFR were likely reported to the PNJ by Escambia County, at no time has Escambia County Code Enforcement cited WFR for any violations, according to the West Florida staff. In fact, Escambia County is a WFR customer and therefore utilizes its facility.

• ECUA has no inspection or regulatory authority over WFR’s private business operations. Rather, WFR and the County’s Perdido Landfill are both vendors to ECUA. Neither organization advises ECUA of FDEP’s concerns regarding their operations.

• Stormwater issues at the WFR facility are FDEP’s main concern. These issues are currently being litigated between the property owner and its contractor. WFR is leasing the property and is not a part of the suit.

• WFR did not receive a citation or fine from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for their operations. Rather, they received a letter in 2012 concerning site conditions, which have been, and are being addressed. Some of the issues are a result of WFR’s outgrowing the facility much faster than expected due to the success of the ECUA’s recycling program.

• The WFR facility is not linked to the recent agreement ECUA entered into with Southern Waste Recovery (SWR). According to that agreement, SWR will build a facility from the ground up. Although SWR would prefer to hire locally and construct a facility in Escambia County, Escambia County has made it clear that no such facility would be permitted here -- thus forcing the jobs elsewhere.

I want to impress upon you to not give up-- please do not stop your diligent recycling efforts. Your participation in the program is vital to its success and to the positive environmental benefit to our community. We have also posted a video on our website that provides more in-depth information on WFR, SWR, and ECUA’s recycling activities. I hope you’ll take the time to visit us at www.ecua.fl.gov and view it. We will continue to keep you updated on all developments related to this matter and urge you to continue your enthusiasm and participation in recycling. Our community is better for it.

 
Stephen E. Sorrell, PE, MPA

ECUA Executive Director
July 30, 2013