FOLEY – Foley will continue its program to take recyclable materials to Florida for one more year until a Baldwin County processing center is operational in 2024.

The Foley City Council voted Monday, Aug. 21 to continue its contract with Emerald Coast Utility Authority to process recyclable materials collected in the city until September 2024. The ECUA is now the closest facility that takes recyclable materials such as aluminum, cardboard and plastic.

Under the contract, Foley will pay ECUA $60 a ton to take the material.

Baldwin County is working on plans to build a new materials recovery facility, or MRF, at the Magnolia Landfill. Darrell Russel, Foley public works director, said the county center is scheduled to open in the summer of 2024.

He said the current contract will allow Foley to continue its recycling program until the county facility opens.

“It’s going to cost the city a little bit more money to recycle but it makes it available for us to continue to recycle and it’s only for a year and hopefully the county MRF will be open about that time,” Russell told City Council members.

Russell said using a county facility in Magnolia Springs will also reduce shipping expenses. Recyclables are now taken by truck to Escambia County, Fla. He said the city recycles about 550 tons of material a year.

City Administrator Mike Thompson said the county plans to charge less for recyclable materials than the rate required at ECUA. The current plan is for the rate to be as much or less than the charge to dispose of solid waste at the landfill, about $30 a ton.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said Foley Environmental Director Leslie Gahagan, Russell and other city officials have worked to improve participation in the Foley recycling program. 

“We’re in the 50% range and a way for citizens on a recycling program and it’s taken a lot of effort,” Hellmich said. “I know Leslie has worked with Darrell and them to encourage that. So, it would be good to maintain what we have even if it costs the city a little bit of money, because people are very passionate about this.”

Foley trucks collect recyclable materials once a week. Materials collected by Foley include cardboard, dry paper, plastic containers and aluminum cans. The city does not take glass, Styrofoam, oil containers or materials that has been in contact with food.