Grantsville residents will now have two opportunities to opt out of the city’s recycling program after the City Council approved an ordinance during its meeting Wednesday night.
The amendment to the city’s municipal code will allow residents to opt out twice a year, between Jan. 1 to Jan. 31, and June 1 to June 31. Any termination of service outside the bi-annual opt out periods will result in a $75 fine.
All new residents of the city are automatically enrolled in the recycling program, but have the option to opt out within 45 days, according to city code.
Councilman Tom Tripp said there is no demand or market for recyclable materials beside metal. A 2018 National League of Cities guide found prices for corrugated cardboard, mixed plastic, residential paper and mixed paper fell dramatically from January 2017 to July 2018.
In January and March, China passed an import ban on certain mixed materials and began to enforce stricter limits on contamination in recyclable materials, respectively, according to the NLC guide. The ban specifically targeted mixed plastic and mixed paper, which are the bulk of materials processed in municipal recycling systems.
“It’s going to the landfill,” said Grantsville City Mayor Brent Marshall, of the city’s recyclable materials. “And the worst of it is, is you’re separating it and we’re paying more money to haul it to the same place that it’s going.”
Grantsville City Finance Director Sherrie Broadbent said the city is now paying $75 per ton to have its recycling hauled away. Since the recycling is sorted prior to being sent to the landfill, it’s more expensive than simply sending the material straight to the dump, she said.
The City Council approved the ordinance by a 4-1 vote, with Tripp making what he called a “symbolic” no vote. He said the language in an ordinance was an improvement but would rather see a repeal of the city’s recycling program.
“I hate to have people pay money for something they’re not doing,” Tripp said.
Councilwoman Jewel Allen, who made the motion to approve the ordinance Wednesday night, said she didn’t want the city to rush a decision on the future of the recycling program.
“I think we should just be really mindful about this,” Allen said. “… I just mean that it’s a lot harder to start it again.”
Marshall said the recycling program would be revisited during the city’s budget process.