OPINION: Recycling Center Will Be Forced to Close Without Immediate Funding Support

OPINION: Recycling Center Will Be Forced to Close Without Immediate Funding Support


Written and submitted by: Devon Brubaker, Ray Lovato Recycling Center

ROCK SPRING, WY – The Ray Lovato Recycling Center Board of Directors is heartbroken to announce that without immediate funding support, the Recycling Center will need to cease operations on April 26, 2019. With this move, the 200+ daily recycling drop-offs and 100 weekly cardboard pick-ups will be terminated, sending over 1.25 million pounds of recyclable products to our landfill. 

The Recycling Center has been providing community recycling services since 1994 when Ray Lovato created the Rock Springs Resident Council to run the center. After nearly 2.5 decades, the Ray Lovato Recycling Center changed hands in 2017 to the current 501(c)3 organization led by a very dedicated Board of Directors that has focused on revitalizing the Center to provide more and better services to the residents of Rock Springs. 

Advertisement - Story continues below...

The new Board of Directors has worked feverishly since early 2017 to increase accepted products, provide better customer service and develop community partnerships. Even with the amazing amount of success that the Center has seen over the last two-years, recycling continues to be a heavily subsidized industry. In 2018, the Center diverted over 1.25 million pounds of recyclables from the landfills in Sweetwater County through its operations. The Board and Staff were able to maximize the revenue from these products but were only able to generate $46,393.65 in revenue due to global market conditions. That revenue is only enough to cover a little over 2 months of operating expenses. 

 Nationally, the average revenue for recycling services only covers 25% of the organizations operating expenses. Therefore, subsidies are required either through private, governmental or user fee funding. For years, the Ray Lovato Recycling Center has been subsidized by Sweetwater County Solid Waste District #1 and the City of Rock Springs. 

While the City of Rock Springs has been very generous and maintained financial and in-kind support for the Recycling Center to the tune of $85,000 this fiscal year, the Sweetwater County 

Solid Waste District #1 terminated funding completely in 2016. This resulted in the loss of $110,000 per year in funding.

Up until recently, the Board has been able to withstand this loss of funding with amazing support from the City of Rock Springs and by using what little cash reserves the organization had on hand. Unfortunately, those reserve funds have been exhausted. Without reinstatement of funding from the Solid Waste District, the Board will be forced to cease operations and liquidate its assets to be able to cover its expected accounts payable balance as of April 26th. 

The Board of Directors has been working on rebuilding a partnership with the Solid Waste District Board of Directors since January 2018. We have attended numerous meetings with them, answered dozens of questions and submitted every requested metric and report in a timely manner. 

In June 2018, the Solid Waste District earmarked $60,000 in their Fiscal Year 2019 budget for the Recycling Center after we requested $85,000. To date, only $17,800 of that $60,000 has been provided to the Recycling Center. While the Board greatly appreciates this funding, it is a huge reduction from the $110,000 previously provided and not nearly enough to cover our operating costs. The Board anticipates the need for $189,500 in funding next fiscal year on top of the funding needed to make through the remainder of this fiscal year (June 30th).

Advertisement – Story continues below…

While we have been working with the Solid Waste District to secure funding, the City of Rock Springs through the support of the Mayor, Council and Staff has stepped up to help with fleet and facility maintenance where possible. They have also been quick to help us out on other problems that have arisen over the course of the past year.

We have developed amazing partnerships with Wyoming Waste, WyoData Security, RSNB Bank, The Rocket Miner, Pacific Steel, Dr. Derek Technology Services, Sweetwater County School District #1 and many others over the last two years. We want to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of these companies and all of the residents who have recycled over the years for making a significant difference for our organization. 

We hope that when the Solid Waste District Board meets next, they will vote in favor of funding for the Recycling Center, otherwise the Board will be forced to cease operations. Residents and businesses that would like to express their support are encouraged to reach out to the Solid Waste District Board and Staff, Sweetwater County Commission, Rock Springs City Council and if possible, attend public meetings for the Solid Waste District. The next meeting of the Solid Waste District is scheduled for April 23rd at 5:30 PM. The meeting is held at the Rock Springs Housing Authority office.

About the Ray Lovato Recycling Center 

 The Ray Lovato Recycling Center is a local non-profit 501(c)3 organization that provides recycling services to all of Sweetwater County. The Center also focuses on opportunities to “recycle” people through the employment of individuals with checkered or troubled pasts that are trying to turn their life around and become a contributing member of society. Additionally, the Center partners with local workforce development organizations to provide employment for developmentally challenged individuals. The Center diverts over 1.25 million pounds of waste from local landfills each year. Material accepted for recycling include corrugated cardboard boxes, magazines, office paper of all colors, newspapers, paperboard (i.e. cereal boxes), aluminum cans, tin cans, food/beverage cartons, plastics (#’s 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7), unsolicited direct mail, and phone books.