Whatever warm fuzzies one gets from separating paper, cans and other items from the rest of the trash — knowing that they can be recycled and not tossed into a landfill — gets a cold dose of reality when it costs too much.
The City of Douglas suspended its recycling program a half-year ago because of economic factors, although that decision was announced Friday, the city’s administrator Jonathan Teichert said Monday.
“Everybody, I think, would like to recycle,” Teichert said.
“But when you’re looking at raising rates … there’s a certain break-even point, I think, where people aren’t willing to pay to feel good about it.”
Douglas isn’t alone, Teichert said.
“It’s a nationwide problem,” he said. “There’s been over 3,000 municipalities that have had to suspend — and many of them are larger cities.”
Many other communities in Wyoming have suspended their recycling programs, too, Teichert said.
For 20 years in Douglas, revenue generated from recyclable materials has offset the cost of the program, he said.
But commodity prices for oft-recycled materials have dropped and the costs to process them have risen, he said.
To continue the program would mean raising trash disposal rates, he added.
Douglas sends its trash to Casper’s Regional Solid Waste Facility, but it kept its recycling program separate with a contract with Wyco Recycling, LLC, in Cheyenne, Teicher said.
However, Wyco moved its operations to Colorado in April, which was the last time Douglas received a payment for its recyclables, he said. Cheyenne also had a contract with Wyco, but that mutually ended in July.
Since then, Douglas puts its recyclables with the regular trash that it sends to Casper, Teichert said.
Douglas is waiting to hear from the Regional Solid Waste Facility if it will open a recycling facility, he said.
An official with Casper’s solid waste division did not return calls seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Teichert said the delayed announcement Friday about the suspended service in April was in part a result of waiting to hear what Casper’s facility would do. It also was designed so people would not just quit the habit of sorting their trash even as the city looks for another way to dispose of recyclable materials.
“The City of Douglas understands and believes that recycling is a vital part of our future,” Teichert said. “So we’re committed to finding a recycling partner that is sustainable and reliable for our citizens.”