All Sections

Home | Local & County Government

Recycling blues hit Nashua as costs continue to skyrocket

Union Leader Correspondent

May 23. 2018 11:54PM
Scott Ricard operates an automated collection truck in Nashua in August 2016. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER FILE)

NASHUA — Despite a huge increase in the cost of recycling, city officials are still encouraging residents to recycle.

“I want everyone to know that the city is still firmly committed to the recycling program,” said Alderman Ernest Jette. “Recyclables do not yet cost more than it costs to put it in the landfill, but we are heading in that direction.”

According to Mayor Jim Donchess, the city was paying under $1 a ton in July 2017 to dispose of its recyclables. The cost last month was $82 a ton.

“It has gone up 100 times in 10 months,” said Donchess, adding the city is allocating a proposed $400,000 in the new budget for recycling disposal. If the rate of $82 per ton continues, Donchess said the $400,000 should be enough to cover the costs.

However, Donchess said that Casella Waste Systems, the company Nashua uses to haul away its recyclables, has warned that costs could increase even more. If that happens, the city may need to take emergency measures to cover the costs, he said.

“There is a $600,000 increase in our solid waste costs,” Donchess said.

The city has a cap of $150 per ton with Casella.

Communities across New Hampshire are facing the same problem; Hooksett and Laconia recently stopped recycling glass, for example.

According to Casella’s website, China stopped accepting recyclables to combat pollution.

“China has banned 24 types of materials that were previously entering their country as recyclables,” states the website. “The largest ban that has impacted the U.S. recycling industry has been the ban on mixed paper.”

Casella states the market value for mixed paper is down more than 90 percent; recyclers now have to pay to get rid of it.

“It is a big problem, but there are solutions out there,” said Jette, who is planning to form a committee to study the issue and figure out the city’s best path forward.

“In the meantime, yes, the city is very much committed to recycling,” stressed Jette. “Please continue to recycle what you can.”

According to Jeff Lafleur, superintendent of Nashua’s Solid Waste Department, the city typically ships out about 5,000 tons of recycling each year; the amount has remained fairly steady.

“We were making money last summer,” said Lafleur.

Environment Nashua Local and County Government

More Headlines