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Sonoco Recycling, North Carolina County, City Combine to Start MRF

Sonoco Recycling LLC has agreed with North Carolina’s New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington to build and operate a material recovery facility (MRF) in the county.

Sonoco, based in Hartsville, S.C., will establish and operate the new MRF at the county’s former WASTEC facility, according to a news release. The county and city will commit all tons collected from their recycling operations to the new facility.

The MRF and the agreement with the city of Wilmington will combine for a savings of more than $650,000 annually, according to Joe Suleyman, environmental management director for New Hanover County. Through the accord as much as 25,000 tons of waste material could be diverted from landfills annually.

The agreement calls for a $1 per year lease arrangement to the county plus 25 cents per ton of materials delivered to the facility from outside the area.

“This agreement, and the infrastructure it brings to the county, provides a tremendous opportunity to expand and enhance recycling efforts countywide,” Suleyman said.

The agreement runs through June 30, 2023. Recycling collection will remain the same, while the drop-off sites will now combine metal cans, paper products and plastic containers into one container for more convenience.

The county will charge the city $10 a ton to handle recyclables, which is about half of what Wilmington pays currently.

Sonoco is a leading producer of recycled paperboard as well a maker of packaging.

Sonoco Recycling has been active in North Carolina. In 2012 it upgraded its Onslow County MRF to increase recycling volumes.

The economic challenges of recycling was one of the prime topics at this year’s WasteExpo Investor Summit. Much talk focused on restructuring contracts. Republic Services Inc. wants to move toward a more waste-centric measure as a basis for contracts, as opposed to the standard Consumer Price Index. Waste Management Inc., meanwhile, would like to shift to a service fee model to charge for recycling.


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