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Perry County Ditches Curbside Recycling Services In Perryville, Drop-Offs Still Accepted

Perry County Recycling Center

Rising costs and a global decrease in value for recyclable materials have put an end to curbside recycling for Perryville city residents. The Perry County Solid Waste Committee made the decision at a meeting on Thursday to halt the services at the end of April.

The move comes after many municipalities and counties in the region have cut back on - and even ditched - their recycling services.  

In a press release, waste Management Supervisor Sheila Schnurbusch said the recycling center has struggled to find a market for the recyclable material. A rise in operational costs and a decrease in resale price resulted in the curbside service operating at an annual deficit of over $45,000.

“The resale prices we are getting for recycled materials cover just a fraction of the labor and equipment costs associated with picking up the materials curbside,” said Schnurbusch. “Unfortunately, operating in the red is no longer sustainable.”

Over the last four years, she said materials like cardboard, plastic, and office paper have “taken big hits.”

“In 2015, cardboard brought around $200 a ton. Right now, we are getting $60 a ton. Two months ago, natural plastics brought in $700 a ton. That price has dropped to $300 a ton,” said Schnurbusch.

The global market experienced its initial dip in 2017, when China began rejecting materials due to policy shifts regarding higher purity rates in recyclables.

Schnurbusch says the county is working to see if there is a more cost-effective way to continue the program, but the way local communities have been impacted by changes to recycling costs is a much bigger issue.

This issue - which has hit many local communities - Schnurbusch said, is a “United States issue.”

“The ones that are being hit hardest are the small communities that recycle for a minimal fee or no fee at all, and you just cannot continue that process,” said Schnurbusch.

Nearly one-third of the households in city limits participated in the pick-up program, and they’re encouraged to take their materials to the Perry County Recycling Center at 5232 North Highway 51 like the remainder of Perry county residents. City administrator Brent Buerck said residents can even keep their blue plastic totes to do so.

Residents will see their rates drop, if by only a dollar.

“Currently, residents are paying $1 monthly to participate in the curbside collection,” said Buerck. “Residents will notice on their city utility bills for the month of May that they are no longer being charged.”

Perry County Presiding Commissioner Mike Sauer said despite the poor financial climate for recyclables, he hopes Perry County residents continue to recycle.

“It’s in the best interest of the environment for us to keep landfills free of what we can reuse, but until global commodities improve, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to offer curbside pick-up,” says Sauer.