Oregon drops curbside recycling -for now

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Monday unanimously voted for a five-year contract with Republic Services of Toledo for refuse and yard waste collection and disposal. It does not include curbside recycling.
        Currently, the city has a refuse and recycling contract with Waste Management, the only other company to provide a bid.
        The contract becomes effective on Dec. 1.
        Much of the items placed in recycling bins are being rejected at the recycling center or are being shipped overseas and put in landfills, according to the city administration. The global market has not changed or improved, and the cost to process the recycling continues to rise. China continues to limit its recycling import product to a 0.5 percent contamination limit. This limit massively affects the global market for recycling and increases the processing costs.
        Councilman James Seaman said he would have liked to wait before voting on the contract to see if there are any options to keep the curbside recycling program.
        “What is the timeline of the contract for us to pass this for continuity of service?” asked Seaman.
        “The best and lowest bid was Republic Services,” said Public Service Director Paul Roman. “It’s a new vendor versus Waste Management. We need as much time as we can get to make this change. Keep in mind that there is a lot of information we have to provide to residents. There will be a five day pickup. Each part of the city could have a different day for pickup. So getting a map and putting the information out, we still have to get that together. We have to sign a contract and that takes time. So I’m asking for at least two months to do that. I’d want more if I could.”
        “I just get some hesitancy,” said Seaman. “This has been a long time environmentally friendly program. I don’t know. I would like to think it through a little more and make some type of adjustment. I’m not saying that we can, but I’d like to study it a little bit more in depth because the recycling program has been around for so many years and it does support the environment. I think a lot of people have a habit and feel positive about supporting the environment. I think it would be contrary to a lot of the residents’ feelings. So I just want to explore it a little more.”
        Mayor Mike Seferian said the city could continue to look for ways to bring back the recycling program after the contract is passed.
        “There’s nothing that prohibits us from still looking at ways to possibly have a recycling curbside program,” said Seferian. “So we’re not saying we’re eliminating recycling. People have options. It just won’t be provided at the curbside at this time. To say we’re not being environmentally friendly, the way recycling is being handled nowadays across the country, most of the product that we’re currently taking is being landfilled anyway. So we don’t feel we are being unfriendly. We think we’re being practical. We will continue to look at possibilities to add it.  We can still entertain all those thoughts of possibly adding a recycling program if it works out if it becomes a practical or sensible thing to do. But right now, to get this to happen, with Republic needing equipment to buy for our city, and the rate that we have for continuing unlimited pickup is something we were pleased with. We’ve literally worked 15 months on this. There’s no magic out there.”
        Seferian also said the city will add recycling pickup points for residents who want to continue to recycle.
        “We might have three or four more places. So the opportunity will be there. We have just changed our recycling program. I think holding this up is just not in the best interest of our unlimited pickup. We will still be entertaining the possibilities of improving the recycling program always,” said Seferian.


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