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Recycling in Twin Falls

A PSI truck drives around on a trash route Monday, Feb. 26, in Twin Falls. It now costs about $100 more per ton to recycle items than to dump them in a landfill.

Recycling will continue in Twin Falls…well, sort of.

Twin Falls City Council unanimously approved a rate increase Monday to continue recycling in Twin Falls. But when the cost for the city is greater than $100 per ton, that rate increase will go toward dumping recycling materials in the landfill instead, which the city and proponents of the recycling program were hoping to avoid.

As of Monday, the price of recycling for the city sat well above the $100 threshold, at $164 per ton.

With the increase, sanitation rates for residents who have full-service garbage and recycling will increase 53 cents per month, starting April 1.

China scaled back its imports in December, sending prices skyrocketing. As for recycling, China said too much material was coming in that was not recyclable, draping a financial burden on China to sort out contamination. Analysts expect the market to settle, however, and on Monday, PSI Manager Jeff Brewster said “China’s going to need that product, eventually.”

In the meantime, the city and PSI should ensure that Twin Falls residents are educated about recycling. The city is asking residents to swallow a bitter pill. Rates are increasing and residents are expected to continue sorting recyclables, but there is no guarantee the contents of the recycling bin won’t wind up in a landfill anyway.

Twin Falls residents have made their position clear: They want to continue the recycling program and are willing to pay a small rate increase to ensure it does. Now the city should do the same. It should put its residents in a good position for when the market does settle and prices return back to normal. When that happens, we must ensure our recyclables are attractive for the next buyer, whether that’s China or someone else.

Directions for recycling are included on the city’s bins, but several local residents said their directions had rubbed off from general wear and tear. The city should provide additional recycling education to make sure residents are not playing a guessing game when they decide where to throw away waste.

Without education, too many residents will decide it’s easier to just throw everything in the old-fashioned garbage can, filling our landfill even faster.

Rate increases are never popular for residents. This is one that we feel is worth the small fee, but if the city expects residents to accept the rate increase without a guarantee of where their recycling is actually going, the city should do its part to get everyone on the same page about what can be recycled.

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