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West Valley City Journal

To clean recycling stream, city adjusts its recycling fees

Nov 13, 2018 01:22PM ● By Jana Klopsch

West Valley City Council adjusted their fees for recycling. (Stock photo)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

After extensive discussions over the course of several council meetings, the West Valley City Council voted unanimously to amend resident fees for recycling. 

Residents who choose to recycle will see their waste collection fee increase from $14.50 to $15.50 a month. While those who choose not to participate, or “opt out” of the recycling program, will pay $13 a month, a $1.50 decrease. 

Earlier this year, city officials hoped to clean the recycling stream by removing blue cans from repeat offenders who contaminate the recycling loads by placing non-recyclable materials in blue cans. Residents would still pay the same amount in waste services fees. 

Public Works Director Russ Willardson told the city council it’s reached a point where it’s more important to have a small load of clean recyclables than a larger contaminated load. 

Willardson said over 100 households have already voluntarily turned in their recycling containers rather than comply with new rules – which primarily regulates the types of materials accepted in recycling cans, such as paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel cans, plastic bottles and jugs. It does not accept items such as glass products, Styrofoam and other plastics, coated or soiled paper products and plastic bags. If contaminated items mix with recyclables, it ruins the entire load. 

Residents complained that charging them for a service they no longer receive would be unfair. 

Councilman Steve Buhler said he hoped residents don’t see this “opt out” plan as an incentive to not recycle. 

“The point of this in my mind is: as I clean up my recyclables and put them in my blue can, there is nothing I can do about my neighbor just filling his can with garbage and then that whole (garbage) truck goes to the landfill instead of being recycled,” Buhler said. 

“We need to clean the recycling stream,” he continued. “And the way to do that is to get those who don’t participate to turn their can in…then I am willing to pay an extra $1.50 so I can participate in recycling.” 

Councilman Lars Nordfelt was initially opposed to the ordinance, worried it would send the wrong message to residents about city officials’ feelings towards recycling. 

“But I understand the need to improve our stream of recycling goods so I’m going to vote in favor of this,” he said prior to the vote. “But I hope our staff will make a concerted effort to shape that message and encourage our residents to not only recycle appropriately but also reduce their use of materials and do what we can for our environment.” 

Since China no longer accepts recycling due to the stream of contaminated materials, recycling fees around the country have continued to rise distorting the market.

As a result, the cost for Ace Recycling and Disposal – the company contracted with West Valley City for waste services – to process recycling material increased from $25 to $55 per ton. That comes out to $180,000 in additional costs. 

The elected officials’ vote to amend the contract with Ace means the city will pay Ace for costs exceeding $25 per ton, up to $60 per ton. 

Mayor Ron Bigelow said during the Sept. 25 council meeting many companies are abandoning recycling altogether “because it is not financially feasible for them to do it.” 

“We, however, do want to continue the program and encourage our citizens to do it and make that service available,” he said.