In mid-August, the Augusta Solid Waste Management District voted to temporarily suspend plastic recycling at the Augusta Transfer station starting Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, 2023. “When the market dropped out in around 2017, the Augusta site began stockpiling [plastic]. In that time, it’s just been — the expense of getting that commodity hauled out was expensive. So we, — the decision to stockpile it and continue baling was made,” said Jacki Pierson of Lewis and Clark County Solid Waste and Public Works.

The transfer station is home to dozens of large, and small, bales of plastic collected between 2017 and 2022, weighing well over a combined 10,000 pounds. With a limited market, the suspension is providing an opportunity for the community and Lewis and Clark County to figure out a plan. However, it’s not the first time the county is seeing a problem like this.

“Within Lewis and Clark County, or even the state of Montana as a whole, recycling is one of those tough markets. Where you want to try to find sustainable waste recycling efforts to reduce your environmental footprint on what would go into a landfill,” said Jenny Chambers, Public Works Director for Lewis and Clark County. the temporary suspension of recycling in Augusta is not unique. There’s challenges in Lincoln, they have suspended recycling of plastic as well. In addition, in the city of Helena, what is accepted at the transfer station and what we do with that material.”

With no place to send the plastic after it was dropped off by members of the community, Lewis and Clark county knew a surplus of plastic was an option, but they didn’t want to suspend the service because of the community’s desire to continue recycling.

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Author: Sam Hoyle, KTVH