It’s Your Money: Inside the multimillion dollar trash business

Inside the multi-million dollar trash business

Horry County, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) has a $27 million dollar budget for 2019.

The authority operates independently from the county and a majority of its budget is generated by collecting fees from individuals and municipalities who dump their trash at the landfill.

Cities and unincorporated areas of the county collect taxes from residents for waste management.

Mike Bessant, the SWA Director of Operations, said part of these funds are then paid to the authority.

The SWA charges $36 for each ton of household waste dumped at the landfill.

The SWA uses $10 of this fee to give back to residents with its scholarships, recycling contests, collection of household hazardous waste, and public education programs

$7 is put aside as a ‘closure fee’ to help maintain the landfill after its closes and $2 of every ton is used to budget for future construction. The remaining $17 is used to fund operating expenses.

While a ton equates to 2,000 pounds, the SWA is expected to generate $13.8 million in the next fiscal year for these “tipping fees.”

Cities, the county and individual companies all pay this fee.

Conway paid more than $750,000 to SWA in 2018, according to the city’s check registry.

North Myrtle Beach paid SWA $51,900 in December.

Bessant said Horry County actually has one of the lowest tipping rates in the area. He said the county is able to charge lower rates because it actually owns its own landfill and facility. Bessant pointed to counties like Florence and Marion who have to transport their waste to a farther distance, which comes with a cost.

The operations director also said municipalities can save money on waste management by recycling more.

“If they recycle more, they bring less tonnage, they get charged less," he explained.

Horry County reimburses SWA for operating its 24 recycling centers. SWA turns that trash into money by selling it. In 2019, the authority is expected to earn $5.5 million from recyclable material sales, according to the Horry County 2018-29 budget.

The SWA also collects methane gas that comes off the landfill and is expecting to generate $75,000 this year.

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.