Small towns limit curbside programs due to value of recycled materials

Many small towns around the states have to limit their curbside programs due to the value of recycled materials and it's putting a lot of those programs at risk.

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LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Over the years, people in the recycling business have stockpiled materials to sell to consumers.

Now, much of that material is decreasing in value.

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Recent changes in the recycling market have wreaked havoc for many businesses and public recycling programs.

Recycling affects the economy.

Many small towns around the states have to limit their curbside programs due to the value of recycled materials and it’s putting a lot of those programs at risk.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Those three words now have a greater meaning in the recent change of the value of recycled materials.

Starkville Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said those changes have trickled down to the city’s Curbside Program.

“Over time, particularly over the last two or three years, as China has become much more restricted in what they will buy. The market for most of the materials that in recycling have tanked. And as result we no longer sell our recycling, we collect it and we pay for another company to take it to the next step in the process,” said Sistrunk.

Cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans, scrap metal, and mixed paper are just a few popular things that recycled.

Now, it costs the program more to send off the materials than what they’re actually worth.

“Paper at one time sold for 90 to $120 per ton and now it’s $30 to $35 per ton. Water bottles were gold. They were easy to sell and that sort of thing but now they’re about a penny a pound,” said Sistrunk.

Manager at Columbus Recycling Ken Mansfield said it’s affecting his business too.

“You don’t see the customers like you used to. Back when everything was up so high everybody was scrapping and now it’s kind of slowed down,” said Mansfield.

A pound of aluminum cans sold for two or three dollars years ago..now it’s valued for less than a dollar.

“We are at a standstill and we’re just waiting on the market and the economy,” said Mansfield.

“We want to do something that is sustainable, something that is reasonable and we want to be prepared to do more when there is a market rebound,” said Sistrunk.

And it could take several years before the market returns to good standing.

In the meantime, the city of Starkville is working on a more feasible way of sustaining their Curbside program.

“As a community, we need to look at our recycling and decide whether what we’re doing is accomplishing what we’re hoping to do,” said Sistrunk.

For more information about the Curbside program or what you can do to help, click here.

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