NASHUA -- The city's recycling program will overspend its budget by the end of March, leaving city officials to decide how to fund the program for the next three months.
“The future of single-stream recycling is really in a transitional stage right now. Most recyclables were going to China,” said Lisa Fauteux, director of public works. “China effectively shut down the world market, which has really created some limited markets for recyclables at the current time. And, as a result, the cost of single-stream recycling has really skyrocketed.”
A total of $400,000 was appropriated for the city's recycling program in the current budget, which will be expended by the end of the month, according to Fauteux.
She is requesting a supplemental appropriation of $120,000 to continue the recycling program. Fauteux told the Board of Aldermen this week that there is additional revenue in the solid waste budget that was not anticipated, which could be used to cover the additional recycling expense.
Nashua collects about 5,000 tons of recyclables each year, with about six loads per week that are hauled away by a vendor, according to Jeff Lafleur, superintendent of Nashua’s Solid Waste Department.
“The city should remain committed to recycling,” he said, adding it would send the wrong message to residents if recyclables were temporarily stashed at the landfill until July 1, when the next budget cycle begins.
The Board of Public Works is recommending that the $120,000 in extra revenue -- unrelated to recycling -- be used to cover the recycling costs for the remainder of the budget cycle; the proposal is now being considered by an aldermanic committee.
Sally Hyland, the city’s recycling coordinator, said changes have been made to lighten the load of recycling by installing a canopy over the recycling storage area at the landfill -- a change that keeps the material dry and lighter in order to save some money.
The cost of recycling was about $238,600 during fiscal year 2018, and has already hit $321,287 in fiscal year 2019 with more than three months remaining, explained LaFleur.
There is currently no revenue from single-stream recycling, they told city officials.
In 2017, the city was paying less than $1 a ton to dispose of its recyclables, but was most recently paying more than $82 a ton.
Casella Waste Systems, the company Nashua uses to haul away its recyclables, previously warned the city that costs could increase.
According to a prior post on Casella’s website, China enacted the National Sword Program last year to reduce the amount of carried waste being sent into the country as an initiative to combat pollution.
“China has banned 24 types of materials that were previously entering their country as recyclables,” stated the site. “The largest ban that has impacted the U.S. recycling industry has been the ban on mixed paper.”