SAN ANGELO — The San Angelo City Council approved an amendment to its recycling contract with Republic Services at a meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018.
To clear up the details about this amendment, the city’s solid waste contract manager Jeremy Miller answered a few questions.
What’s the issue?
The amendment was made to the city’s recycling and solid waste contract with Republic Services because of new restrictions imposed by China. The amendment states paper and Nos. 3-7 plastics can’t be picked up by curbside recycling. If people are using recycling bins as trash cans, they will be revoked.
What are China’s restrictions?
China, which once processed more than 50 percent of the world’s recyclables, tightened restrictions on what it will accept, and currently is taking less than 10 percent, a Republic Services representative said in a September interview.
This resulted in a 500-percent cost increase on recyclable materials.
Another restriction is that China only accepts material with a contamination rate up to 0.5 percent , as opposed to the 25-percent contamination rate they used to accept.
“It creates a perfect storm for the folks that have to sort the material and pick out the cleanest material, and that drives the cost up,” Joe Spano, Republic Services municipal services manager, said in September.
Why isn’t paper going to be accepted?
“There is no market or value for this material,” said Miller. “Due to restrictions imposed by other countries, the market for this material has changed, creating an increased supply and lowered demand causing prices to fall from $100 (per) ton to $5 (per) ton currently.”
In September, Republic Services noted that China no longer accepting recycled paper was part of its reason for requesting the contract amendment.
What was San Angelo’s contamination rate?
“Our contamination rate is 25 percent, which is average for this type of program,” Miller said in September. “Curbside is a great idea because it increased recycling, but it also increases contamination.”
If I don’t recycle, can I get a discount on my bill?
“Citizens are not required to participate in the curbside program … however the monthly rate for collection on the water bill would not change,” Miller said.
Will people see an increase on their bill?
“The contracted rate for services increases Oct. 1 every year, but that is not related to this amendment,” Miller said.
Will the $0.50 surcharge be lifted since fewer materials can be recycled?
This surcharge was added in February 2016 as residents failed to recycle enough materials to meet the monthly 500-ton contracted promise between the city and Republic Services. Since the types of allowable recyclable materials are changing, many wondered if the surcharge would be lifted, but that’s not the case.
“No, the only amendment authorized by council was to change the items accepted for recycling,” Miller said.
The surcharge is staying because the 500-ton goal has not been met, Miller said. It would be removed if San Angelo is able to meet that goal. In September it was reported Republic collects 300-350 tons of recycled material per month.
Miller said the surcharge must stay in place if curbside recycling is to remain an option. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be sustainable for Republic Services.
If recycling has proven to be so expensive, why not get rid of it?
“Citizens voiced their opinion through three different workshops saying they wanted curbside recycling to stay without an increase to their bill,” Miller said. “This amendment allows us to continue offering curbside recycling at the current rate.”
What other recycling options are available for San Angelo?
“I am not aware of any other company offering residential recycling services. Recycling services are open market and not exclusive to Republic Services,” Miller said.
Several stores have boxes near their entrances to collect plastic grocery bags for recycling. Target has limited options for glass and plastics recycling at its San Angelo location, 4235 Sunset Drive.
How will the decision be made to pick up misused recycling bins?
Another contract change includes removal of recycling cans from customers who have been using them as garbage cans.
The city and Republic Services have not finalized specifics, but the plan under consideration would give customers three notifications about the misuse before picking up the recycling bin.
“Republic Services and city employees will work together to determine whose bins are being used incorrectly,” Miller said.
Additional garbage cans are available for an added monthly cost of $5.61.
When will the amendment be executed?
“I do not have an exact date, but soon,” Miller said.
Both Miller and city public information officer Anthony Wilson are asking people to start following the new guidelines as soon as possible.
What is picked up by curbside recycling:
- Flattened corrugated cardboard.
- Boxboard, cereal and frozen food boxes.
- No. 1 and 2 plastics. No. 1 plastics include soda and water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers. The latter three should be cleaned before recycling. No. 2 plastics include milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; and shampoo bottles.
- Steel, tin and aluminum cans.
- Empty aerosol cans.
What is not picked up by curbside recycling:
- Food storage containers
- Medicine bottles
- Bread bags
- Plastics Nos. 3-7
Check the recycling logo at the bottom of any plastic item to be sure it’s recyclable. The number of what type of plastic should be labeled within the triangular recycling logo.
Read more about this topic:
If San Angelo doesn’t budge on recycling, trash contract with Republic Services could end
San Angelo residents tackle recycling problems, solutions at town hall meeting
City schedules three public forums to discuss San Angelo’s recycling service
City, Republic Services answer questions about upheaval in San Angelo recycling program
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