HOOKSETT — At the April 10 Town Council meeting, councilors will decide whether or not to discontinue the town’s current single stream recycling system and end all recycling of plastic materials.
Committee members have billed the proposal as a response to what the town’s Recycling and Transfer Station Advisory Committee has labeled “skyrocketing costs” to process recycled materials.
“We will still recycle cardboard, tin cans and aluminum cans,” said Hooksett Recycling and Transfer Station Crew Chief Richard Blake at the committee’s March 27 meeting. “We are going to leave the bins of mixed recycling for the people that want to come in, but we have to make it known we are not recycling it due to the cost.”
“We’re going to keep the bins as they are for the people who still want to continue to practice, but until it becomes, or is, cost effective, the single stream recycling will go out as trash instead.”
In a report provided to the Town Council, the committee details that the town is currently paying $133 per ton to Turkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprises to process recycling while it only costs $72 per ton to dispose of trash.
And due in large part to strict contamination standards set in 2017 by China, the world’s largest buyer of recycled goods, there’s also no guarantee that mixed recycling material sent off to processors by municipalities even ends up in the recycling stream, a point that Blake drove home when he recounted incidents where he spotted waste management trucks dumping bales of plastic recyclables at the same landfill where Hooksett’s trash goes.
“We’re paying them $133 a ton to do the same thing we can do for $71 a ton,” said Blake.
The proposal comes after a policy change Hooksett made last July to temporarily send curbside recyclables to the incinerator, a move which itself was followed by the decision to end all curbside recycling pickup.
The committee says it will continue to monitor recycling costs and may reconsider their current proposal if and when the processing prices become more economical.