Uinta Recycling cashflow down 37 percent

Outgoing Uinta Recycling President Charles Butcher recognizes members at the organization’s annual meeting. (COURTESY PHOTO/Hayden Godfrey)

Uinta Recycling Inc. (URI) held its 2023 annual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Beeman-Cashin building. Outgoing recycling board President Charles Butcher gave introductions, then passed the microphone to Treasurer Luke Hicks for a financial report.

“I am pleased to announce that, financially, we made it this year,” Hicks said. “We base the center’s continuance solely on the community’s help and support.” He emphasized that, like any business, URI’s success is a reflection of support from its community, employees and members. “We have seen great support from recyclers wanting to keep trash out of the landfill.”

Hicks clarified that, as a nonprofit, URI does not need to maintain a positive income each year, but it does need to be sustainable. “This year, Uinta Recycling faced many challenges, including volatile commodity pricing, geographical challenges and logistics of the center itself.” He said that the greatest challenge was imposed by fixed expenses and inconsistent income. “There is a fixed cost for each bin, regardless of the price received at the other end,” Hicks added. 

Hicks said that the center has faced a considerable rise in operational costs, especially noticeable in the context of fuel prices, insurance and maintenance. “Comparing this year to 2021 does raise concerns for the future of Uinta Recycling,” he said. He compared final bank statements for 2021 and 2022, revealing a 37 percent drop in cashflow. “In looking at the totals from 2020 to 2021, we did have an increase of 12 percent,” Hicks said, adding that this amounted to a total loss of 25 percent since 2020.

Hicks said the income numbers do not account for yearly expenses, and thus were subject to additional decreases. “The future of Uinta Recycling is worrisome as inflation continues to rise and our income isn’t necessarily keeping up,” he said, adding that expense management is crucial as market prices remain variable.

He congratulated URI’s employees and board members for a successful year. “A huge thank you goes out to the county, bin sponsors, donors and members, as without you, this would not be possible,” he said.

Butcher said that URI had filed 2022 tax information through Sponenburgh and Co. “They did very in-depth research on the books for the last couple of years, and they reported everything was kosher.”

Butcher thanked the county for giving them $2,733.32 per month to continue operating. “The county supports Uinta Recycling by about a third of our budget,” he said. “If they were to stop that, everything would go to the landfill in about three months.” He also expressed gratitude to the city, who furnishes URI’s building and assists with utility and maintenance charges.

Butcher said that URI’s annual income can be broken into thirds. He said one third of their earnings comes from the government, another third comes from selling recyclables and the final third is from member donations.

Julie Jett, a board member, went through the various memberships URI offers to the community. The organization currently has 92 individual and family memberships, 12 yearly business memberships, 32 weekly business pickups, and every elementary school has a membership during the school year. Additionally, URI has 15 bin sponsors. Board Secretary Sue Anderson clarified that the elementary schools are sponsored by individuals, as opposed to having their own memberships.

Butcher recognized the volunteers who have worked at the recycling center. “If it weren’t for the volunteers, we would be closed on Saturdays,” he said. Some of the groups he thanked were Evanston Rotary, the Uinta County Democrats, Masonic Lodge No. 4 and the Uinta Recycling board members.

Todd Carter, the recycling center manager, gave an operational report, stating that there had been 23,605 visitations throughout the year. He broke that down to a daily estimate of 65 visits. “On the tonnage totals, we kept 455 tons out of the landfill,” he said. “That’s up about 25 tons from last year.” He added that, while he can break the tonnage down by material, total weight is the main goal. He said the center is losing money on every shipment of cardboard. “For every ton of cardboard we send down for recycling, we have to pay for the freight, and we get nothing in return.” Butcher interjected, saying that cardboard was at one point worth $65 per ton, but is now worth nothing. Carter said that white paper is currently profitable, but he only sent one bin last year. The aluminum, according to Butcher, is marginally profitable.

The center used to send glass with a Utah company, paying nothing and earning nothing, but now has to pay the company $355 per load, selling the glass at market value. “It was the cheapest way to go,” said Carter. Butcher said that one of the most interesting ways the center makes money is by removing brass fittings from appliances and electronics during spare time. The center then sells these fittings with their regular shipments for a relatively high price.

Butcher warned that the center cannot recycle biodegradable packing peanuts, as the material dissolves into something that URI cannot manage. Anderson announced that the center had started a website. “For a $25 annual fee as a nonprofit through Google, we have a Google platform that we can build a website from.” The website, uintarecycling.org, lists visitation trends, donation options, board members, partners, sponsors and more. “I tried to model it off of Park City’s website,” Anderson said, “and the big thing is the recyclables accepted and not accepted.” Anderson also procured a company cell phone in order to manage memberships through Venmo, a digital payment service. She hopes that Venmo will make it more enticing for the community to make small donations to URI.

Ron Taylor, facilities operations manager at the Uinta County landfill, expressed his appreciation for URI. “This recycling thing is huge. People don’t think they make a difference,” he said. “As a steward of your facility, over time, it makes a difference.” He said recycling can make a difference as far as 60 years in the future.

In any given year, Taylor said, the landfill processes approximately 24,000 tons of municipal waste. The facility recycles about 200 tons of metal in the same timeframe. “It comes to the landfill, but it doesn’t go in the landfill,” he said. Taylor reported that he receives roughly 60 tons of electronic waste. He pays 40 cents to remove each pound of electronics. “These are things we cannot physically put into the landfill to jeopardize your facility.”

Taylor announced that the Wyoming Solid Waste and Recycling Association will hold a conference from Aug. 21-23, at the Evanston Roundhouse. “Don’t pass up the opportunity to learn about some of the stuff that’s going on right here.”

Butcher said that those interested in knowing which materials are recyclable, as well as where to recycle them, should visit Earth911.com. He said that recycling is important because it has the potential to be economical. “Our grandparents recycled out of necessity. During World War Two, people recycled out of necessity… We need to get back to the mentality of recycling.”

After the meeting, Sunny Kaste was nominated and elected to URI’s board. She accepted the position. The meeting was adjourned for the election of URI officers.

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