The future of the city’s recycling center received a lengthy discussion at the last Medical Lake City Council meeting, stemming from a decision to change the facility’s pick-up service.
At the Tuesday, March 19 meeting, the city reiterated it had changed from Recycle America to Sunshine Disposal to pick up recyclable material dropped off at the center. Recycle America transported items to Waste Management’s new recycling center, which opened toward the end of last year. The change stemmed from a heavy price increase implemented by the company to take the recyclables.
City Administrator Doug Ross said prices went from a very minimal fee to $45 per ton, then to $90 per ton. In addition, returns on cardboard had dropped to $5 per ton in January, comparing to Sunshine’s payment of $60 per ton.
As a result of the change, the city no longer recycles glass, instead is currently crushing glass that is then sent to a landfill at a cost of $48 per ton.
The question of whether the city should even handle glass was included in the facility-related discussion that took place.
“We are basically subsidizing disposal for citizens,” Ross said.
Councilman Howard Jorgenson asked whether glass disposal should even be part of the city’s repertoire.
“Why are we in the business of doing it when you can throw it in your garbage,” he asked.
Residents pay a $2 flat fee when dropping off items at the facility.
Medical Lake is also looking at an option that would bring curbside recycling to residents. Ross said the service would be mandatory if the city decided to go ahead with it, and would cost residents $5.97 regardless of whether or not the service was used. Sunshine would pick up a 96-gallon mixed-use container, which includes food waste, once a week.
Collecting yard waste by curbside would be an optional service, and would cost residents an additional $13 per month.
“We’re subsidizing to have their yard waste taken away,” Ross said.
This year, the city budgeted $24,000 toward recycling center costs.
But, the City Council would have to make a decision on whether to undertake the curbside recycling venture or keep the recycling facility open.
“It would be nice to have both, but we can’t do both,” Councilwoman Shirley Maike said.
Jorgenson said many of the city’s residents wouldn’t be able to cut down to 96 gallons, especially those homes with more trees and acreage than others.
“Ninety-six gallons won’t work for a lot, but it will work for a lot,” Councilman Art Kulibert said. “It would also cut out-of-towners using (the recycling facility).”
Councilman A.J. Burton said the city shouldn’t be losing money on the facility, and that if it costs $4 to process an item, it should be reflected in the cost paid by citizens.
Ross noted that the center made money when it was first constructed, and continued to do so until prices changed in recent months.
The City Council will discuss curbside recycling at its next meeting, Tuesday, April 2 in the council chambers.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.