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BFI dumps load of recyclables in landfill

By Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff

Photographs of a BFI truck dumping recyclable cardboard at Summit County’s Three Mile Canyon landfill could be proof of what the company’s critics have suspected for years.

The container was picked up several days ago at Linens ‘n Things at Kimball Junction, but rather than deliver the material to a recycling facility in Salt Lake, the cardboard was dumped in the landfill.

"Why are we bothering to recycle when it doesn’t actually get recycled it’s filling our landfill," said Mark Offret, superintendent for Summit County Public Works.

A landfill operator photographed BFI’s truck with a disposable camera pictures Offret calls "strong evidence."

"It’s just proof of what I’ve always said all along," Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said during an interview Thursday. "There’s no way they could deny it."

A frequent critic of Allied Waste Services, formerly BFI, Woolstenhulme claims an incident like this bolsters his case for terminating the county’s contract with the waste hauler next year. Woolstenhulme wants the county to purchase its own trash-hauling fleet.

The commission recently formed a citizens solid waste advisory committee to study different alternatives for garbage pickup.

Offret whipped out the pictures of a BFI employee disposing of the recyclables Wednesday as the County Commission met with BFI brass. "I knew the pictures were there that’s why I brought it up," Woolstenhulme said. "[BFI] had three people there and it was a good time to bring it up, let them know that we were aware of what was going on."

"It really disappointed me that we were set up that way in that meeting," BFI general manager Rick Schultz said Friday.

Woolstenhulme has accused the company in the past of dumping trash from other jurisdictions in Summit County to avoid heavier landfill-tipping fees, but never had proof that BFI was wasting recyclable material.

"I doubt this is an isolated case," the commissioner said. "There is a lot of stuff there in those pictures cardboard, tires, the whole bit."

Before dumping the load, a BFI employee claimed the truck wouldn’t make it over Parleys Summit, Offret said during a telephone interview.

"The truck should, that’s what they’re built for on the side of that Dumpster that’s why the guy took the picture it said, ‘Recycle,’" Offret added.

But BFI has only three roll-off trucks and two were already in use that day, Schultz said.

"It’s an isolated incident," he said, adding that Linens ‘n Things hadn’t planned properly for boxes generated by a shipment. "It is not what we practice and it is not what we do."

He isn’t comfortable driving the third truck over the summit.

"It’s perfectly fine but we prefer not to send it over the hill," Schultz added.

He insists other loads of recyclables are delivered to Rocky Mountain Recycling in Salt Lake.

"Due to time constraints and equipment, we didn’t have a choice," Schultz said. "BFI is committed to recycling."

Summit County pays BFI about $94,000 per month for recycling and trash pickup. But those payments could stop if the company continues dumping recyclables in the landfill, Woolstenhulme said. BFI recently tapped former Summit County Commissioner Shauna Kerr as a consultant for the upcoming contract negotiations.

"I’ve had people call me and tell me it was going on," Woolstenhulme said about citizens who have complained that BFI wasn’t properly disposing of recyclables. "There was too much noise out there, too many complaints."

Public Works officials say merchants at the Tanger Outlet Center have also complained about BFI’s haulers taking cardboard to the dump.

"[People] recycle it to send it to someplace where it can be recycled and not to the landfill, it takes time it isn’t like just throwing the garbage out every day," said Woolstenhulme, who started recycling when the county recently began offering free curbside pickup. "People have a right to have the stuff treated the way it’s supposed to be treated."

The photographs should serve as a warning to BFI that members of the public are watching how the company conducts business, the commissioner said, adding that nothing in BFI’s contract allows the county to penalize the company for trashing the cardboard.

"The contract is filled with flaws," said Insa Riepen, executive director of Recycle Utah, adding that BFI is not required to recycle material it picks up for the county.

According to Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan, "it’s an isolated incident. BFI is smarter than that, they’re not going to do something stupid on a regular basis."

"This was a mistake in judgment," Callahan said.

BFI recycles material picked up in western Summit County. A separate company, County Curbside, works with the county to recycle material from Park City and South Summit. Curbside employees take their loads to Recycle Utah.


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