NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A new state of the art recycling facility will open next year in Charleston County, saving $1.5 million annually, official say.
The Charleston County Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is estimated to be completed by June 2018.
Charleston County leaders broke ground on the new site Monday morning off Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston.
The new 57,000 square foot center has been in the works for more than four years, with plans officially approved by County Council in April 2013.
"We're spending [$1.5 million] automatically having to truck the material that we're recycling to Horry County," said County Council Chairman Vic Rawl.
In 2015 the Romney Street recycling center shut down its processing, leaving curbside collections to be transported to the Pee Dee region.
With the new facility expected to open in 2018, officials believe more materials across Charleston County will be recycled.
"This new facility will process material at 25 tons an hour," said Director of Environmental Management Andrew Quigley. "Five times faster [than Romney]."
"In 50 years it's going to be useful to not have a huge number of plastic bottles lying around, or sitting on the ground not decomposed," said Don Howe, of West Ashley, who recycles.
The cost to build and maintain this new $30 million dollar center will affect your wallet.
The average homeowner will have to pay an additional $10 more per year to solid waste management.
"It's less than a dollar a month… kind of a drop in the bucket," Howe said.
"Is it expensive? Yes," Rawl said. "Is it a choice government and citizens have made? Yes. Do people like the idea of green? Do they feel good about curbside recycling? Yes. Are they willing to pay for it? Yes."
The new MRF will include state of the art processing equipment including optical sorting machines which will produce high-quality material and reduce labor costs; a fully automated scale; and capacity to process all of Charleston County recyclables.
The hope is to eventually create a partnership with Berkeley and Dorchester Counties to allow their recyclable material to be processed at the new facility.
"Building this new recycling facility is a necessary investment in order to serve the needs of our community for many years to come," said Charleston County Councilmember Brantley Moody.
The building will also include a multi-media education center and administrative offices.
A third-party in the private sector is expected to hire employees for the new facility and manage the operations.
County officials are also urging you to take a look at your recyclables and determine whether or not they are actually recyclable.