Is Milton the canary in the recycling line?
Suburb hit with huge increase in trash, recycling costs
The cost of Milton’s contracts to pick up and dispose of trash, recycling materials, and yard waste this year went up almost $820,000, or about 32 percent.
At a special town meeting on Monday night, the community cobbled together enough money from a variety of sources to cover the higher tab, but many are wondering whether the higher disposal costs are becoming the new normal.
Recycling costs started rising last year when China stopped accepting contaminated materials for processing. That action flooded the recycling market, sending prices for a wide variety of recyclables plummeting. Now companies that pick up recycled materials are charging their customers per-ton fees instead of picking up the materials for free. As a result, pickup costs are soaring.
Stephen Lisauskas, a vice president at WasteZero, a company that advises communities on recycling issues, said Milton is not alone. Many municipalities, he says, have been seeing their recycling costs go up. He says part of the problem is the shift to single-stream recycling, where homeowners throw all of their recycled materials in one container. That approach has made recycling easier for homeowners, but resulted in more contamination, which reduces the value of the recycled materials.
Milton put its trash and recycling contracts out to bid this summer and the bids that came back stunned town officials. According to the community’s town warrant, the recycling contract jumped 36 percent, rising from $870,000 to nearly $1.2 million. Trash pickup and disposal costs jumped an equal amount, rising from $950,000 to $1.3 million. Yard waste pickup costs increased from $858,128 to just over $1 million.It’s unclear why trash disposal costs in Milton went up so much, but it appears the town made a number of changes to the way trash is picked up that resulted in higher charges.