Price of recyclables in the dumpsBales of recyclable paper are stacking up at Tennis Sanitation in St. Paul Park.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Bales of recyclable paper are stacking up at Tennis Sanitation in St. Paul Park.
Over the past several months, the market for paper, aluminum, glass and plastic have taken a nosedive, according to Willie Tennis who co-owns the company with his brother, Greg.
The company will get one third of the price it was getting two months ago for paper, under the new contract it reached last week with the supplier that buys the paper. Willie said he’s just grateful the supplier is still willing to buy the two semi-trailers of paper per day that the recycler collects. He was bracing for news that the supplier would stop buying paper altogether.
What’s left will have to stay put until the market improves, Tennis said.
Tennis Sanitation opened a recycling facility four years ago. After that, residents no longer had to sort their recyclables. Instead, paper, plastic, glass and metal were sorted at the facility.
Ten locally owned haulers also take recyclables to Tennis.
Recycling has grown 25 percent since the facility opened, Tennis said. About 80 tons of material are processed each day.
China had been buying American paper but that market is dwindling. According to national news reports, China is not using as much packing material as it once did because the export market to the United States is down.
The price of plastic material has dropped by 75 percent and the price of aluminum has dropped nearly 70 percent, according to Tennis.
Tennis’ recycling division has 29 employees, and Tennis is not planning any layoffs because the material still has to be picked up and processed.
Until the market improves, funds will have to come from the company’s other divisions that include residential pickup and off-loaded dumpsters.
“We aren’t a numbers company,” Tennis said. “We don’t have to meet any profit percentages. If the money is in the checkbook, we can spend it. If not, we don’t. We are not after the almighty dollar.”
Tennis still believes in recycling and the company’s residential pickup rates are designed to entice people to do more of it. If a resident increases recycling and goes to a smaller container for trash and garbage, the rate goes down.
The company is not planning to increase pickup rates.
Judy Spooner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.