Valley Center residents could see an increase in recycling fees

Posted: Updated:
VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KAKE) -

On average 42.75 tons of recyclables are collected in Valley Center each month. The city says right now the recycling industry is changing and that could mean changes for Valley Center residents.

Jim Gilson, is one of many Valley Center residents, who supports recycling in his community, “I think recycling is a good thing. I just think it's good for the environment, good for the economy. I think it's the right thing to do.”

The recycling discussion started after the city received a number of phone calls about the Waste Connections recycling dumpster that was removed from the Leeker’s parking lot. According to the city, the company said the industry was shifting and had to discontinue because of costs.

Residents who want to recycle rely on Waste Management. Its truck picks up recyclables twice a month.

But recently, the company asked the city to add $1.63 to each customer’s bill. The company said there are a number of reasons for the increase such as its business with China. China, who is the world's largest buyer of recyclables, put stricter quality standards on what it accepts. It has also banned accepting certain items altogether. Not only that, processing costs have increased.

Kristine Polian, Valley Center Assistant City Administrator, says in addition to WM’s business with China changing the company is now having to pay to unload at the Waste Connections transfer site. A $90-per-ton-fee was put into place to dump at Waste Connections site. In the past, Waste Management didn’t have to pay at all.

Polian said, “they are seeing their cost dump recycling in this area, they are seeing those costs sky rocket. At the same time, they don't have a place to take their recycling.”

Valley Center promises recycling at least through 2020, when its contract with Waste Management ends. But city leaders hope to keep it going beyond that. The city says worst case scenario is having to drop curbside recycling altogether. Polian said, “it's very obvious based on the recycling numbers that residents value the service.”

Gilson says he doesn't want to lose the service and the fee increase doesn't bother him. He said, “I would support a cost increase on recycling because I just think it's the right thing to do.”

Polian says the city council has not voted upon the $1.63 increase. She says the city discussing if it can absorb the increase cost itself so it doesn’t impact resident’s bills. Polian says the issue will be brought up in next month’s city council meeting.

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