The News Editorial: Issues with recycling in Small Town America
January 23, 2020
Next Friday will be the final pick-up day for cardboard recycling in Worland and Ten Sleep with the Washakie County Solid Waste Disposal District No. 1 board opting not to continue to subsidize the recycling program.
The reasons are two-fold, according to District Manager Mike Siegfried, financing and the fact that currently there is no where to take the cardboard. Siegfried said current recycling plants are full and cannot accept anymore. This is one of the reasons it has been almost a year since they shipped any baled cardboard out of the landfill southwest of Worland.
When news of the board’s decision broke last week people expressed disappointment but I wondered how much would people be willing to pay to continue to be able to recycle.
The WCSWDD1 had to raise rates a few years ago just to cover regular operating expenses for the landfill. Raising rates is not an option to help cover recycling efforts.
So this week I investigated recycling opportunities around the Basin and in communities similar in size to Worland.
Both Powell and Cody have recycling centers and both city governments assess fees on utility bills to help keep those centers in operation. Powell assesses a $2 recycling charge. Cody charges a $1.30 for residential customers and $4.40 for businesses. Neither offer curbside recycling. Cardboard, paper, plastics and aluminum cans are accepted at the recycling centers.
Lovell used to have a recycling program but according to officials at the town hall, there is no recycling efforts at this time.
The Town of Greybull had a voluntary program and accept cardboard, cans and paper, but one official said they did not know how long they could continue to fund it.
The Town of Basin used to have a cardboard recycling program but it has stopped. They also had a volunteer group that had a few trailers collecting cans, plastic and paper but that program and group no longer exists either.
Newcastle does not have any recycling program.
The City of Buffalo has a recycling center. The city does not assess any fees but the center does receive one-cent sales tax monies.
Deep down everyone would like to recycle. But they also want it free or inexpensive and they want it to be convenient.
What is convenient? Curbside pickup is convenient but that costs so would people be willing to pay for that curbside pickup.
If there was a center or other place to drop off recyclables, how close does it need to be to your home or office for it to be considered convenient?
I recall when Basin began their composting program they wanted it to be convenient and they also didn’t want everyone having access to the compost yard so they disbursed some green waste dumpsters throughout town to encourage residents to take green waste there and keep it out of the landfill. Had they required people to take it themselves to the compost pile, my guess is fewer people would have participated.
Some people recycle for the funds they get in return, while others recycle for the environment and the betterment of the planet. For those recycling for funding, what happens when the funds dry up. In Basin, one man was collecting all the newspapers, until he was not getting enough to even fund the drive to Billings.
Another problem is the time involved to do recycling right and people do not always want to do that. Some recycling centers prefer cans to be rinsed out. All recycling centers prefer any recyclables be free of other non-recyclable trash.
When Basin had their recycling trailers you could see people had put trash bags of trash in the bins. They did not work to keep the plastics, cans and newspapers separate.
Siegfried told the Northern Wyoming News that another issue with the cardboard is that China has said no to imported cardboard because of the trash that comes with it.
Recycling in Small Town America and rural Wyoming is not easy and it will never be cheap, so we either need to say yes, we will pay to be able to have recycling opportunities here, or we, like Siegfried suggested, need to work on reducing and reusing more than recycling.
New Hope Humane Society reuses newspapers and plastic bags at their facility.
Worland Senior Center and New Hope accept aluminum cans for recycling.
Pete Smet Recycling will accept aluminum cans and any other metal, steel, tin and copper. They do not accept glass, plastic or rubber.
The Renew You Recycling volunteer group in Ten Sleep continues to have monthly recycling drives.
They typically collect No. 1 and 2 plastics, paperboard (cereal boxes, facial tissue boxes), paper bags, steel and aluminum food cans, newspaper and magazines.
While not accepting cardboard, paper and newspaper for recycling, the landfill does take tree limbs free as they are able to burn them. They will also take metal free of charge, white goods (washer, dryer, refrigerator) as long as they are free of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
So let’s focus on reducing and reusing until we can afford to recycle.