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Collapsing market for recyclables driving global increase in costs

January 28, 2019 GMT

NEEDLES — “We find ourselves having to pay to recycle, when a decade ago we were getting paid to recycle,” said Rick Daniels, city manager of Needles. “The market has flipped. I don’t know whether it will come back or what will happen.”

Daniels was discussing the city’s plans for meeting state mandates for recycling, by both residences and commercial interests, in an interview at the city’s Third Street offices. The idea is to continue with the current contracted service for trash collection in the city: Allied Waste Transportation Inc. The company would collect recyclables along with the trash, as they have been doing, but the price would go up.


Four workshops will allow residents and businesses to learn more before a formal public hearing set for March 12. They’re scheduled:

• Monday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m.

• Monday, Feb. 4, at 5 p.m.

• Friday, Feb. 15, at 9 a.m., and

• Wednesday, Feb. 20, at noon; all in city council chambers at 1111 Bailey Ave.

The March 12 hearing will be held during the regular city council meeting of that date. Council meets the second and fourth Tuesdays with public session beginning at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

“China,” Daniels continued, “has decided they’re no longer going to reuse and remanufacture stuff using American recyclables. It’s just thrown the whole recycling market upside down to the point that, according to the haulers, going out to collect it and prepare it for market and deliver it to the docks for Vietnam and other places is now a cost center, not a profit center.”

Complicating that is California’s increasing demands for residents and businesses within its borders to recycle materials.

“The legislature now requires you to have curbside recycling,” Daniels explained. “The goal is 75 percent by 2030. We have to provide the opportunity for (city residents and businesses) to recycle. If they don’t, and we don’t make that target, we’re subject to a $10,000 a day fine by CalRecycle.”

CalRecycle is shorthand for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the state agency that oversees compliance with recycling and waste management mandates (visit calrecycle.ca.gov). According to that website: “CalRecycle’s vision is to inspire and challenge Californians to achieve the highest waste reduction, recycling and reuse goals in the nation.”

Proposed new rates, detailed in the city’s notice of the public hearing and calculated by container sizes and collection frequency, include:


• Commercial or multi-family recycling cart rates at $23.73 for a 95 gallon cart or $47.76 for a 196 gallon container. Examples are shown for up to three carts collected up to six times a month ($427.14); or containers twice a month.

• Commercial cardboard recycling, once a month, at $40 for three cubic yards.

• Residential recycling carts at $2 per month in addition to current rates of $24.39 per month for pickup twice a week: once for a trash cart, once for a recycling cart. Examples are shown for up to four carts.

Residential bin rates are listed at $89.47 for 1.5 cubic yards; $148.55 for three cubic yards.

An annual rate adjustment is to start Jan. 1, 2020, equal to the U.S. city average Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers of water, sewer and trash collection services.