A Lexington decision to temporarily halt paper recycling has had a domino effect on Georgetown/Scott County recycling that will mean more paper going to the landfill.
Lexington announced its recycling center was no longer accepting paper to recycle because there was no market for it and nowhere to send it. Reports stated the center had been giving the paper away, but now they cannot even do that. The center hopes it will be a temporary hold until they can find another source to accept the paper to recycle.
The local recycling center will still accept clean cardboard and newspaper, Georgetown Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Hartley said.
“We send the cardboard directly to buyers and get a better price, and we think we have a viable option to send newspaper,” he said. “But all other paper goods went to Lexington, so we have to find another source to send it.”
Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather has had several conversations with citizens disappointed in recycling efforts and the market forces that impact them, he said.
“Recycling is important and citizens everywhere care, but the market problems have to get solved and fixed by finding new models that work,” he said. “I think advances in technology and changes in attitudes will help, but I think we will be disappointed in the short term until we work on making it more sustainable.”
The recycling center will still accept all paper, but other than newspaper and cardboard, all other paper products will be going to the landfill and people can just as easily put that in their own trash, Prather said.
“That is just the stark reality of the situation,” Prather said. “Market problems are not something we can fix in central Kentucky or even Kentucky. It is a broader issue than that.”
Recycling is becoming a growing problem for communities all across the state, said Jared Hollon, Scott County deputy judge-executive and solid waste coordinator. Hollon was recently at a Bluegrass Area Development District meeting and the topics were solid waste and recycling, he said.
“Everything was going to China, but in the last year that has really slowed down and now there is more volume of paper than they can handle,” he said. “All of us want to be environmentally sound, but it is not viable. And you can’t throw everything in the landfill. It’s been a hard go and it is going to get tougher.”
The economics of recycling are changing, Hartley said.
“I’ve been reading national articles on the global shift of where recycling is going and who is going to buy it, and according to what I have read, it is just going to get worse. The local market sources are not what they used to be, and recycling becomes a question of revenue and expenditures.
“Recycling has gone through slumps in the past and readjusted. The question is how long will the readjustment take, or is this a more permanent shift.”
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.