In the final presentation of the night at Lehi City Council meeting held on July 10, Beth Holbrook, representative for Waste Management, presented information showing the necessity of a rate increase for Lehi residents who use recycling containers. According to Holbrook, there are three reasons for the increase.
Holbrook said, “In 2014-15, the market shifted. Petroleum products became cheaper. This fact, along with President Trump not joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) angered other members of the partnership, most prominently, China. China, the biggest buyer of recycled products, used this as leverage with the United States in negotiations.”
Regarding the decreased value of recyclables, “China was happy to buy our recyclables before the US did not renew its membership in TPP, but not now. This has made recyclables not as valuable as they once were,” added Holbrook.
She went on to explain that processing costs have doubled for Waste Management. “We now have to hire additional workers to go through the recycled material and discard what cannot be recycled. This material has to be taken to the landfill and that requires time and money. We need to educate our citizens as to what to put in recycling containers.”
There are only three kinds of materials that should be put in containers. Plastics can be recycled but only plastics that have the recycling insignia on them or plastics designated with numbers one through seven. Uncontaminated cardboard can be recycled, but some cardboard like pizza boxes are not usable because of China’s increased regulation. Paper may be recycled along with cans. “People seem to “wish” some items are recyclable, but they are not,” Holbrook explained, “Some people think Christmas tree lights, clothing, cords, electrical appliances and even diapers can be recycled. They cannot.” A glass recycling container is located in a City-owned parking lot just south of Lehi City Offices.
“We have tried to cut costs, but much has changed,” Holbrook continued. “The landscape has changed and recyclables are not as valuable as they once were.”
The proposed increase would be $1.15 per household recycling container per month.
Lehi City Council Members agreed that consumer education was critical in solving the problem. No action by Lehi City was suggested at this time.