HAMILTON — People in the Bitterroot have one option for recycling products, but now that one option will be gone by the end of the year.
Ravalli County Recycling plans to stop operations on Dec. 31.
"If the community doesn't value the idea of recycling and keeping things out of the landfill, preserving the environment for our grandchildren, then there's not really much hope for recycling," said Ravalli County Recycling volunteer Janice Lee.
Burnout, poor markets, and old equipment could be tough on any business, but Ravalli County Recycling is a nonprofit with only two employees, 25 volunteers, and zero government subsidies. On top of all that, the property lease is also about to expire.
Chip Britting has been a volunteer since 2011, and he feels bittersweet about the impeding shutdown.
“There’s tons of challenges going on, but part of life is working through those things and trying to make things better," Britting said. "I feel like we definitely made a difference here in Ravalli County.”
Unless something unexpected happens, it will close its gate for good by the end of the year.
Ravalli County Recycling has 160,000 pounds of cardboard on their lot, and that cardboard costs the organization $10 a bale.
In 2017, RCC made about $40,000 but this year it’s expected to make only a couple of thousand dollars.
“Two years ago we could get 65 dollars a ton for cardboard," Lee said. "This year its a dollar something. That’s pretty shocking, dramatic.”
Once its doors are closed, it will take approximately a month to clean up their location and sell the equipment.
Britting estimates they’ve recycled 8 million pounds of product.
You can still bring metals to Modern Recycling in Victor. Other recyclables can be brought to Pacific Recycling and Republic Services in Missoula.