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Missouri cities use different recycling systems

Missouri cities use different recycling systems

June 9th, 2019 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

Julie Smith/News Tribune Chris Hillen drops glass bottles through the chute into the glass collection dumpster on the parking lot of Sav-a-lot Thursday. Both recycle regularly, be it glass, cardboard or aluminum cans.

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There is not a one-size-fits-all recycling model, and many communities have taken their own spin on what recycling services to offer and how to provide them.

Jefferson City has been offering single-stream curbside recycling to single-family households through Republic Services since about 2009, said Sheri Johnston, Jefferson City neighborhood services specialist. Republic Services accepts various plastics, paper, cardboard, mail and aluminum cans in curbside recycling.

The city has also contracted with Ripple Glass to provide a free glass recycling service since about 2010. Residents can place glass in one of four purple Ripple Glass bins at 1228 E. McCarty St. in the Save-A-Lot parking lot, 1700 Southridge Drive at McKay Park, 2284 Hyde Park Road and 2730 W. Main St.

Aside from the city's options, several local private businesses offer recycling services, such as New World Recycling and Federal International Recycling and Waste Solutions. Midwest Recycling Center and Gold Star Recycling also accept electronic recycling.

Columbia

Columbia, with about 122,000 residents, stuck with the "old-fashioned" way of recycling by offering dual-stream curbside recycling, said Adam White, acting solid waste manager for Columbia.

The city requires residents to separate their recyclables before placing them on the curb. This helps keep contamination down and produces a cleaner product, White said.

"What we have found is that with us not going to a single stream and remaining a dual stream, it produces a cleaner product that is easier for us to market and has allowed us to weather the recent turmoil in the recycling market when other communities have had a harder time because they're collecting it as a single-stream, co-mingled material," he said.

In January and June, residents in single-family residences receive vouchers for black trash bags and blue recycling bags, according to the city's website. Residents can redeem their vouchers at checkout at various retailers in Columbia.

Residents can fill the blue bags with various glass bottles, aluminum cans, metal food cans and rigid plastics. Residents would then place the bags at the curb for pickup.

Cardboard, office paper, junk mail, newspapers and catalogs must go into a paper bag or cardboard box, which can be placed at the curb for pickup.

If residents need more recycling bag vouchers, they can contact WasteZero Inc., which will mail another voucher to them at no cost.

Columbia has been operating its current dual-stream recycling system since 2002, White said. Prior to that, there were other programs that also collected dual-stream recycling, he added.

If Columbia had swapped to single-stream recycling, he added, they would have had to "retool our entire operation."

Along with curbside recycling, Columbia offers several recycling dropoff centers throughout the city. These dropoff centers accept various plastics, glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans, flattened cardboard, office paper, newspaper and junk mail, among other items.

While Columbia can sell cleaner products because of its dual-stream system, White said, contamination is still a worry. The city struggles to sell glass it collects because of contamination, he added.

Finding markets can also be difficult. Columbia struggled to find vendors for certain plastics and mixed paper, White said.

Columbia collects and processes about 15,000-16,000 tons of recyclables on average, White said.

A few private recycling companies also offer recycling dropoff locations throughout Columbia.

Joplin

With about 52,000 residents, Joplin has a similar recycling setup as Jefferson City, providing single-stream curbside recycling services through Republic Services to single-family residences and duplexes. The city began offering curbside recycling in June 2016.

Despite offering single-stream recycling, contamination has not been an issue in Joplin, said Mary Anne Phillips, recycling coordinator and stormwater education manager.

"It is not an issue, at least not enough to break any deals, but the people participating (in curbside recycling) want to participate and are paying extra to do it," she said. "They're more motivated than if it was mandatory."

Those who want curbside recycling must pay $4.85 extra a month, Phillips said, which has deterred some from participating.

Of the average 16,696 homes that qualify for curbside recycling, Phillips said, an average of 1,576 participate in the program.

Due to limited resources, Phillips said, it has been difficult to increase participation.

Joplin residents also get several amenities with their trash service, so "there's no incentive at all to recycle," Phillips said.

"In fact, if you want to recycle, it's going to cost you, so there's no incentive," she said. "Until we change how we look at it and the whole business plan of it, I don't see our curbside recycling getting very big.

"We've got to get those numbers up because it's costing Republic Services a lot of money to service those few people. Plus the markets are just so bad now, it's not like they're really getting paid anything."

Joplin also offers a recycling center that is open at various times throughout the week. The center accepts items like cardboard, magazines, newspapers, various plastics, glass, metal, plastic shopping bags and waste electronics.

Along with curbside recycling and the recycling center, Joplin also has compost and tree limb dropoff facilities.

St. Joseph

In St. Joseph, with a population of about 76,500, the city has provided a recycling center to residents since the mid-1990s. The center is a collection facility, and St. Joseph contracts with a local recycling company that takes, processes and markets the recyclable items.

The center is popular among residents, said Rod McQuerrey, St. Joseph superintendent of solid waste and recycling. The center produces more than a million pounds annually, he added.

Despite it being popular, the recycling center generates little money — $15,000 annually, McQuerrey said. However, the center has an operating budget of $150,000, and the landfill has to fund the majority of the recycling center, he added.

While curbside recycling has been discussed at the city level, McQuerrey said, it would be an additional expense.

The center accepts aluminum, glass, various plastics, corrugated cardboard boxes, magazines, newspaper and other recyclable items. The city requires residents to rinse recyclables and remove lids, can labels, paper clips, rubber bands, staples, and wire spirals, according to its website. It also does not accept wax-coated cardboard.

The city only accepts certain types of plastics and requires residents to clean recyclables to increase its profitability and decrease its contamination rate.

"You won't see taking any of the lower-end plastics anytime soon," McQuerrey said. "We'll continue to take brown and clear glass and cans, paper, cardboard. The market is still pretty volatile. It's kind of like the metals market, up and down.

"Cardboard is a classic example. Sometimes it's very valuable, and two weeks later it may not be, and two weeks later it may be."

Independence

With 117,000 residents, Independence does not offer residential trash or recycling services, and both of the city's recycling centers are permanently closed.

The city instead encourages residents to contact one of the eight licensed trash haulers in Independence to provide trash and recycling services. Some of these independent companies provide recycling services, such as Republic Services and Ted's Trash Service Inc.

A few private recycling centers exist in Independence where residents can drop off recyclables.

Meg Lewis, public information officer for Independence, did not return the News Tribune's requests for comment.

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