Charleston County considering sending recyclables to Horry County

Charleston County’s recycling center on Romney Street has been running multiple shifts each day as workers try to process all the material brought in by the popular “All-In-One” program.

Charleston County is considering trucking much of what it collects in the popular blue recycling bins to Horry County for processing after severing ties with the contractor that runs its recycling center, sources with ties to the county say.

County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, chairwoman of the committee, said she could not confirm or deny that the county is planning to send recyclables to Horry County. But, she said, her committee at its meeting Thursday will discuss plans for processing the county’s recycling until a new recycling facility is built on the Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston.

Condon also said the county and Sonoco, the company that currently is running the Romney Street recycling facility, have mutually agreed not to renew the company’s contract when it expires July 31. The county owns the facility, she said, but it must find another way to process the huge amount of recyclables collected and brought to the center each day.

Representatives from Sonoco did not return voicemail messages left for comment Thursday.

Sources familiar with the county’s solid waste program who wanted to remain anonymous said the market for recyclables is at a 20-year low, and it would be difficult to find another company to run the Romney Street facility at a reasonable cost. Transporting the waste to a facility in Horry County that is not operating at full capacity could be the only short-term option.

County Council last year decided to build a new recycling center in North Charleston, but then it began discussing whether to change course and incorporate new, and as of yet unproven, alternative technologies into its solid waste programs. That slowed progress on the new recycling center, Condon said.

But the county now has decided to continue with its single-stream program, and build a facility to accommodate that. The design is complete and the county should be ready to move forward with it soon, she said.

That’s important, she said, because the single-stream recycling program has been a success for the county, and residents love it. Under the program, people can mix all of their recyclables in one bin instead of separating them.

The program has increased both the number of people who recycle and the amount put out on the curb every other week. But it also has overwhelmed the aging Romney Street facility.

“It’s an extremely popular program, and we’re not going to let anything jeopardize that,” Condon said.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich