Stillwater Utilities Authority to hear recycling concerns

Over the past few weeks the City of Stillwater has helped Cedar Creek Farms, its recycling processor, clear away giant piles of trash that have been accumulating at Cedar Creek's facility. City Manager Norman McNickle said city crews hauled 419 tons of materials to the landfill north of town at a cost of about $10,000. It was much cheaper than alternative, he said. Photo provided

You’ve been sorting paper, plastics, aluminum and setting your recycling cart to the curb.

But, you haven’t been recycling, not really. That refuse has been stacking for who knows how many months. By this point, much of it will go to the landfill.

Not really what we expected, is it?

For the last few weeks, the City of Stillwater has been using its social media platforms to reiterate what is recyclable and what isn’t. In a couple of instances the City posted an article from The Atlantic “Is This the End of Recycling” with the message, “Cities across the United States are facing a lack of market for their recycling. The consequences are much higher expenses to process recyclable material, & a lot of recyclable material ending up in a landfill anyways.” Around Aug. 20, it was an article from NPR about how China won’t take plastic anymore. On Aug. 14, the City released an FYI Stillwater podcast with a discussion with Waste Management Director Chris Knight who described a soft and tumbling market for recyclables, who said, “… we’re not structured in our country to take on the amount of recyclables that we had going overseas … everyone’s kind of scrambling right now figuring out what to do with it.”

At the horse track, this is called hedging. The City has been winding up for this discussing about the failure of the recycling program. So, some of it is on the residents, and some of it is on the market? Are we leaving anyone out while we’re assigning blame?

Recycling as we’ve also known it could very well be dying, but the residents who take it seriously need more than a shifting of focus.

People who are committed to recycling need to be prepared and willing to pay more than $3 a month to ensure it’s actually financially sustainable to haul the stuff where it needs to go. We can’t count on the revenue from selling the material to underwrite our recycling cost and keep it low.

The City also needs to practice better oversight all around: of the customers and the processor.

Recommended for you