Recycling Costs Rising for Several Cities in Massachusetts

California recycling (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Recycling is becoming too expensive for many cities in Massachusetts to continue offering the service for free.

“Since China announced the country would no longer accept recycling from the U.S., bottles, cans, plastic, and paper have become basically worthless,” according to WWLP.

Prior to the country’s decision, Waste Management earned nearly $80 for every ton of paper it collected. Now, it costs the company more to recycle the glass than it earns, which means it is much too expensive for cities to offer the service at no cost.

In January, Westfield’s Director of Public Works Dave Billips said the rising costs were going to have a “major impact” on his city’s finances.

“We’re looking at going from paying nothing to paying $500,000 a year,” he stated.

Springfield currently pays nothing to have its 7,000 tons of recycling processed every year, but the anticipated hike in price may force the municipality to shell out $1.2 million annually, which could raise taxes or be the start of a recycling fee for residents.

“When China decided our recycled materials were not clean enough, commodity dealers began shipping bales to new overseas markets in Thailand, India and Vietnam,” WBUR reported.

“But now these countries are also rejecting them, so a lot of the stuff we put into our household bins — the contaminated stuff — now winds up in landfills,” the article stated.

However, in 2019 Massachusetts began making grants to cities and local companies to purchase grinders that turn glass into materials to be used for building sidewalks, roads, and even filling potholes.

This week, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he was dedicated to finding a solution to the rising cost of recycling in his area.

“I want to make sure I have the most cost-effective, efficient way and also being respectful not only to the environment but the taxpayers of the city of Springfield,” he concluded.


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