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Tacoma considers eliminating curbside recycling amid market changes

City council was presented with four options to offset increased recycling costs. The options would only impact residential customers, not commercial customers.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma City Council is asking the public’s input on proposed changes to the city’s recycling program, including eliminating curbside pickup.

The proposed changes come after a Chinese ban on imports of most recyclable plastics. China’s decision to stop accepting plastic waste from other countries is causing plastic to pile up around the globe.

“The increased cost of processing and lower market values make Tacoma’s recycling program more expensive,” a statement from the city read.

Solid Waste Management staff presented the council with four options back in December to offset increased costs. The options would only impact residential customers, not commercial customers.

Related | 'Empty, clean, and dry:' Recycling changing under China's rules

The city put out a survey to residents to gauge feedback on the options before deciding on any changes in March. If changes were adopted, a rollout would begin in June according to the city’s website.

The four options are:

Limited Recycling 

With this option, the city would eliminate curbside pickup and open two satellite drop-off recycling centers. Customers would pay an additional $1.33 a month for increased landfill costs.

Partial Recycling 

Option two would only eliminate curbside glass recycling. The city would provide satellite glass boxes or recycling stations. Customers would pay a $2.40 monthly recycle surcharge with this option.

Maintain Full Curbside Recycling 

This option would cost customers a $3 monthly recycling surcharge. The city would remove “problem” from their commingle recycle list.

Maintain Full Recycling Plus

The fourth option would maintain full recycle service as well as remove items from the city’s commingle recycle list, provide satellite glass boxes or recycle stations and increase recycling education. Customers would be charged $4 monthly surcharge.

The city notes on their site that, “option 1 and 2 may require households to increase their garbage container size depending on the amount of waste produced. This will result in higher monthly garbage bills.”

Options three and four highlight what the city calls “problem items” on the commingle recycle list. These are “materials like plastic bags and flat, plastic lids (ex: dairy tub lids) can jam equipment causing dangerous conditions for workers and increased labor costs for employers.”

A video produced by the city urges residents to be more stringent when recycling. Telling customers, “when in doubt, throw it out.”