Pima ponders recycling program

Jon Jonson File Photo/Gila Valley Central: Pima should have a contract to vote on at its next council meeting to start a drop-off recycling program in town thanks to Metal Mite Recycling.

By Jon Johnson


PIMA – While not usually on the cutting edge of change, coming to the table later allows the town of Pima to see how to improve on other municipalities’ programs for the betterment of the town, its citizens and, in this case, our environment.

After previously receiving a dire reception to the possibility of starting a recycling program akin to Safford’s from the town’s contracted waste management company, Vista Recycling, a new version of a recycling program is being given strong consideration.

Pima is considering creating a drop-off recycling site in town akin to the system the Graham County Rehabilitation Center used to have in Safford at its former recycling facility on 7th Avenue. Recently, the town of Thatcher announced it would begin a test trial with drop off sites to test if its residents would utilize recycling before starting a program like Safford, which has a recycling can with each residential trash can and alternates pickups of trash and recyclables once per week.

Here’s the rub, unlike the Safford program which pays a recycling company to take the recyclables away, the Pima site would be run by a local recycler who would handle all transportation of the materials at no charge and still pay the town for the recyclables, thereby making money for the town.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Metal Mite Recycling has proposed to run a centralized recycling location for the town of Pima. Though not accurately reflected in the sign, the business is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday.

According to its contract with Friedman Recycling, Safford pays the company $687 to transport a 40-foot container of recyclable materials to its sorting facility. Safford City Manager Horatio Skeete previously said he believed the city, which does a loose, single-stream recycling system, places about five tons of recyclable materials in the container. Friedman then pays the city a percentage of what it sells the recyclables for, which averages out to roughly $18 per ton. Additionally, the city then does not have to pay the landfill charge of $42 per ton for anything that is recycled, but that means the city is losing about $387 per container transport. With an average of slightly less than 10 tons of recyclables per week, the program costs the city of Safford about $3,000 per month, which is made up, in part, by current rates charged to residents for trash removal. The city has recently decided to compact the materials at the site, however, thereby increasing the amount that it can fit into the container by double. But, as of last month, Skeete said the program was still operating at a deficit. 

Enter Ty Traylor, owner of Metal Mite Recycling at 5900 W. Safford Bryce Road and Traylor’s Trailers at 167 E. U.S. Highway 70 in Pima. Traylor gave a presentation at Tuesday night’s Pima Town Council meeting and offered to provide one of the bins for Pima’s proposed program, pick up and sort the recyclable materials, weigh all the materials and then pay the town for the recyclables that were put in the bins. He would then take the material to a recycling facility at no charge to the town, so instead of paying to have a company pick up its recyclables, the town would be paid for the opportunity to do so. Traylor said he would start the program with four containers; one for metal and e-waste and one each for aluminum, cardboard and paper. He said he likely already has a large bin to use for the metal, so the town would only have to pay for the fabrication of the three smaller bins to hold the other materials to get started, along with any security costs it deems necessary. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Ty Traylor, owner of Metal Mite Recycling, moves some material at his recycling business.

Traylor said he also pays for clear plastic bottles and that he is the only recycler in town that pays for steel and bulk metal.

“It cleans up the town; it prevents it from going to the landfill and everybody is happy,” Traylor said.

Traylor also offers to pick up junked vehicles that have open, notarized titles. Traylor said he will provide the trailer and heavy machinery to load the vehicle and then would weigh it and pay the town accordingly. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Metal Mite also takes in junked cars and is offering to do the same for the town of Pima.

The council is considering placing the bins at the fenced town yard site near the Pima Pool across the street from the Head Start preschool and allowing, at least initially, people to drop off recyclable materials during working hours. Those who drop off non-recyclable materials could be subject to a $500 fine, and the site would be under security surveillance.

Since Traylor’s presentation was a discussion-only item, Vice-Mayor Dale Rogers informed Town Manager Jeff McCormick that he would like to see the proposal on next month’s agenda for a vote, and Traylor said he would provide the start-up cost for the fabrication of the three other bins at the meeting as well.