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Monroe County may be fast-tracking plans for a new recycling facility. The County Solid Waste Management District wants to start construction before the end of the year. The new materials recovery facility, or MRF, would process the County’s recyclables and prepare them for sale. Money for the project is set aside in the District’s budget for next year. But on October 9th, executive director Larry Barker asked the District’s Board of Directors for permission to start spending the money early.
Barker has been pushing to build a MRF for years. The County finally approved a version of the project in September. The facility will be a clean-stream MRF, meaning it will only process recyclables that have been pre-sorted. Ultimately, Barker wants to build a waste-stream MRF, which would actually separate recyclables from other garbage. A waste-stream MRF would be more expensive, and that proposal has been controversial. Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, who is also a member of the District Board, said he wanted to be careful not to appear supportive of the waste-stream facility.
Barker and some members of the District’s Board believe the County can make money from selling its recyclables. Currently, the County pays the company, Republic Services, to haul off its recycling. Board President Steve Volan said it’s not clear all those recyclables are even, in fact, recycled. At the meeting, the Board voted 3 to 1 to start construction on the clean-stream MRF this year. That decision has to be approved by the County Council before it’s final.