Three Pulaski County cities will ask their councils to approve new curbside recycling terms that would raise customer prices and stop glass collection.The cost increase is happening in other cities across the United States, where the supply of recyclables to companies that re-purpose them is so great that prices for those recyclables have collapsed.

Companies have lost one major buyer: China. The country accepted as much as 40 percent of Waste Management’s recyclables but now accepts almost none from any U.S. companies. The change is so the nation can create a more internal, circular recycling stream, according to Waste Management officials.

Under the new contract terms, residents of Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood would pay $4.14 per month, up from $2.99 per month, to Waste Management for curbside recycling services. The new fee would go into effect April 1 and last until March 31, 2020, when it would then rise for another year to $4.29 per month. “We simply cannot renew the contract as it is,” said George Wheatley, Waste Management’s public sector services manager for Arkansas and three other Southern states.

Waste Management also is struggling with recycling glass, which was a part of the original contract for single-stream curbside pickup signed with the three cities in 2012. The machinery at the processing plant, owned by Waste Management subsidiary Recycle America, can’t break it down, so the company has been shipping it to a Memphis business at an extra expense not factored into the original agreement. That change won’t occur until April 1. Until then, Stodola said, “We’re going to have to do a very spirited education program” to let customers know they can’t toss it in their bins any longer.

Little Rock has been exploring curbside glass pickup with Ace Glass, an Arkansas glass construction company. The company creates windows for homes and for large office buildings, such as Heifer International and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. It has a glass recycling drop-off center in Maumelle. Stodola said he’d like to see if the company can provide the service for free, based on the value of the glass. Wheatley said Waste Management did not consider shifting glass recycling to Ace Glass’ center in Little Rock to be feasible, based on the size of the facility. Recycle America will keep a glass recycling drop-off container outside its building in Little Rock’s industrial park, he said.

Other materials also may be prohibited under the three cities’ new curbside recycling contract, said Craig Douglass, executive director of the Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District in Pulaski County. The district, which is a local solid waste district funded by the state and state-required fees, is facilitating that contract. The contract has not actually been drafted yet, Douglass said. He expects to have one ready in a week or so.

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