Nonprofit organizations face unfair scrutiny

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Sedona Recycles had provided free recycling services to a number of nonprofits and local agencies as a donation to the communities we serve for several years. After much deliberation we recently decided we could no longer afford to continue the practice and sent out letters letting these entities know that we would have to charge a minimal amount to continue service.

One governmental agency representative said the following in response: “So you are telling me you want us to pay you to pick up our recyclables and then you make money on them?” I think is very important for the public to hear this so they can understand that this is the number one misconception about recycling. I wasn’t surprised when the representative said this since I have heard it before, but it was still infuriating. Why will individuals and businesses pay haulers to bury their trash in a landfill without complaint, yet scoff at the idea of paying recyclers to do a tremendous amount of work to turn that material into new products?

Sedona Recycles loses money processing nearly every material we accept. We have large pieces of equipment that our entire operation depends on that are costly to purchase and maintain. We employ eight full-time and 11 part-time employees. Every material we bale is wrapped in eight thick metal wires that cost $1 each. The struggles we face are very real and yet we continue to do this work because it is important to the local communities and because we care. Our goal has never been to make money and as it is often said, “Nonprofits don’t have programs to make money, nonprofits make money to have programs.”

Our goal is to responsibly handle the material we accept and continue to expand the amount of materials we can process. We are here to educate, answer questions, and help people. It isn’t hype or false advertising; it is the real deal. We aren’t asking for sympathy, we just want everyone to understand what work is involved in our operation. It is not a simple process – it takes people, equipment, energy, and passion to make our work successful.

Other nonprofit organizations are not judged in the same way we are. They don’t have a commodity that they sell so they are not expected to be self supporting. They are funded because they do something exemplary for the communities they serve. We, on the other hand, can’t seem to escape the misperception that we are a business that should make enough money to not need the support of anyone else to survive. This misconception runs rampant throughout the Verde Valley, from customers to governments.

In order for Sedona Recycles to successfully recycle nearly 100% of the material we receive, there are substantial costs involved. Sometimes we pay to see that a load of material is recycled, whereas other similar for-profit recycling operations just throw it away. We always make sure the items we receive are recycled, whether we make money, break even, or spend a great deal to accomplish that.

Ask any other local recycler where their glass goes and they will not have a good answer because there is no money in it and, for them, it is trash. For us, glass accounts for 25% of the material we recycle by weight, and it goes to Strategic Materials in Phoenix and becomes new bottles. This happens only because we collect it separately and we do the hard work required to produce a quality post-consumer material.

Ask other recyclers about Styrofoam and you will get a blank look. Ask us and we will tell you we accept it 365 days a year, even though we lose over $700 for every pallet we process. Why do we keep doing it? Because Styrofoam breaks down in to ever-smaller pieces, clogs waterways, is ingested by animals, and takes up a huge amount of landfill space. This is reason enough for us and for all the people who take advantage of the fact that we recycle this material that no one else does.

Please remember that nonprofit organizations are here to help you, but they need your help and support as well. Nonprofits are not the same as other businesses, even if they sell a product. To support Sedona Recycles please consider the following:

  • Volunteer
  • Join the board
  • Become a member
  • Donate
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle

This is what we ask from you. Contact us at (928) 204-1185 of visit for more information.