By DAN FOX
Changes to the overseas recycling game are forcing changes locally in Troy and its neighboring cities.
On Nov. 19 the Troy Board of Aldermen gave Mayor Mark Cross approval to work with the city attorney on changes to the city’s contract with Meridian Waste Solutions – who currently hold an agreement with the city for residential solid waste collection.
The intention is to shift recycling services from “single stream” to “dual stream,” according to Meridian Waste Government Affairs Manager Derrick Standley.
This will keep paper and cardboard separate from other recycling material. In Troy, curbside pickups for recycling will continue for #1, #2, #3, #5 and #7 plastics, aluminum, tin and steel.
Meridian will place drop-off containers around the city for collection of paper, magazines, books, cardboard and other “tearable” recyclables. A rate increase of $1 per month is anticipated per home paying for recycling.
“It requires the public to change their [residents] entire thought process about recycling…recycling isn’t the be-all, end-all,” Standley said. “We have to recycle correctly or just not do it. As long as we’re doing something that helps the environment that our children have to live in, let’s do it, but if we’re doing something that’s actually detrimental, let’s quit that practice.”
The shift in the local recycling market is a result of occurrences over in China, Standley said. The United States has long enjoyed a 40-year relationship with China where it would send the U.S. goods, and in return the states would send China recycling to be re-manufactured into new goods.
Up until January 2018, China took 58 percent of U.S. recycling.
“And that relationship worked really well for about 40 years,” Standley said. “And as we shifted our practices, as we tried to recycle more, corporate America developed a zero-waste policy which pushed things into the recycling stream that shouldn’t have been there, so much so that there’s a term for it – it’s called ‘green washing.’”
The term means to deceptively promote one’s products or policies as eco-friendly.
In the residential side of recycling, services switched to single stream trying to make it more convenient for households, Standley said.
“Too much of the material we were sending to them [China], not a majority by any means but too much of the material we were sending to them they couldn’t recycle anymore, it was just too dirty,” Standley said. “And unfortunately they didn’t have the landfill capacity to even dispose of the balance and too much of this material ended up going up into rivers and wound up back out in the oceans.”
Things like old pizza boxes with food stuck to them are an example of things that shouldn’t be recycled, Standley said.
The dual stream plan is a result of this shift.
The tearable recyclables will stay local, and go to Central Paper Stock recycling in St. Louis.
All of the rigid recyclables like plastic and tin will be shipped to Kansas City for the time being, until the city of St. Peters’ dual stream recycling plant is geared up enough to handle materials from surrounding municipalities.
Once the materials are going to St. Peters, Standley said the $1 surcharge will be removed from residents’ bills.
So far cities like Wildwood, O’Fallon, Wentzville, Warrenton and others have switched to this style of service.
Many communities surrounding Troy will not initially receive the curbside service; Troy itself was actually slated to be all drop-off for all recycling, but Standley said the city was “adamant” about wanting to continue its recycling program.
“At the request of the city we modified that, that we would do the dual stream here,” Standley said.
“So we’re going to give it a whirl and see how receptive the residents are to it.” If the program works in Troy, the possibility exists to expand it to surrounding towns.
“It’s going to be one-by-one, because we want this to work and we don’t want to overwhelm the recycling facilities,” Standley said.