New Hanover trash deal appears dead

First Posted: 5/9/2014

LUMBERTON — New Hanover County’s trash won’t be coming to Robeson County — at least not anytime soon.

Although New Hanover officials have not entirely ruled out accepting a contract with a company that would collect and dispose of their trash in Robeson County’s landfill in St. Pauls, Steve Edge, Robeson’s director of Solid Waste, thinks the proposed contract will die.

“But we’re still receptive to the idea if they still want to do business,” Edge said.

The agreement with New Hanover could have meant an annual profit for Robeson County of between $2 million and $3 million.

“It’s not like we are losing revenue. This was just an opportunity for us to generate additional money,” Edge said. “It’s like when you try to recruit industry. Sometimes an industry opts to locate in the county. Sometimes it doesn’t.”

Edge said that New Hanover officials discussed the issue at a meeting of their county commissioners on April 21 and still could not reach a consensus on the best way to move forward with trash disposal. How to handle disposal of its increasing trash load because of limited space has been an issue in New Hanover for three decades, according to The Star News newspaper of Wilmington.

Under the plan that would land New Hanover trash in Robeson County, the primary contractor would have been Waste Management. Robeson County would be the subcontractor, providing Waste Management with a place to transport and dispose of the trash.

A second company, Waste Industries, is also vying for the contract with New Hanover County, the home of the port city of Wilmington. It would have disposed of trash in Sampson County.

The proposed 10-year contract that would bring New Hanover trash to Robeson County included an option of renewing the contract for two additional five-year periods and called for a minimum of 130,000 tons of New Hanover trash to be shipped annually to Robeson for disposal. The maximum amount of trash to be transported into Robeson County would have been about 200,000 tons each year, with the total tonnage of trash coming into Robeson depending on what New Hanover County decides to do with approximately 60,000 tons of construction and demolition trash.

Edge said that neither proposal in current form is likely to be approved by New Hanover officials.

“No action has been taken on either proposal. I don’t think either one will work within their budget and fit the response they want to take,” Edge said. “They feel either proposal might increase the cost to their residents and businesses and they don’t want to do that … . They haven’t closed the door. They are just trying to figure out what to do.”

According to a recent Star News report, New Hanover officials are looking at a new design for an expansion to their landfill that if approved by the state could expand its life expectancy as much as 60 years. Currently, according to the newspaper, the existing landfill has only four to five years before it reaches capacity.

Edge has said that Robeson County’s landfill has plenty of room for New Hanover’s trash and bringing it here would not threaten the health of local residents.