Klamath County increases recycling fee
By Nohea'ililani Waiwai'ole, Staff Writer
After months of uncertainty regarding whether recycling would continue in Klamath County, commissioners voted to increase the fee and keep the service. The unanimous vote happened April 5 and increased the recycling fee by $1.22 per person for curbside recycling.
"I would have been shocked to see recycling go away in Klamath Falls," said Demi Sahlinger, a student at Oregon Tech, "I was not really sure why recycling was being threatened."
The changes of Klamath County recycling started January 1, when China, the world's largest recyclables customer, passed new regulations. The regulations included stricter purity standards, making recycling more complicated in terms of what items they would or would not accept. Such changes affected the world recycling market, since some estimates report China has been processing half the world's recyclables. Chinese officials claim the changes are necessary to protect public health and limit pollution in China.
"I think paying $1.22 extra a month would definitely be worth it," said Sahlinger, "it would be disappointing to have to put our recycling in the trash."
In February, Waste Management informed Klamath County Commissioners of plans to raise rates on curbside recycling pickup. Such a decision must be granted permission from Klamath County and the city of Klamath Falls. Since community members voiced staggering support for keeping curbside recycling, County Commissioners felt comfortable voting yes to the increase.
It has no longer been cost effective for Waste Management to transport recyclables to other processing sites in Portland or San Francisco. Since December 4, 2017, the Klamath County Transfer Station has only been accepting carboard and glass as acceptable recyclable material. Without an increase in rates, Waste Management will have to start putting recyclables in landfills.
Although Klamath County commissioners gave the go ahead, Klamath Falls is still waiting on a decision from the City Council.
Discussions surrounding what to do about recycling in Klamath County have brought up tough facts. Waste Management wants to educate more residents on the issue that 25-40% of recyclables end up in landfills due to recycling contamination. The primary cause of recycling contamination is food contaminated items which cannot be recycled.
"I didn't know that recycling contamination could happen," said Matt Lindemann a sophomore at Oregon Tech, "I think there could definitely be more awareness around that issue, because I'm not sure if other students know about [recycling contamination] either."