In late 2018, officials in the city of Walla Walla, Wash. (population 32,000) issued a report that showed the economics of the city’s single-stream curbside recycling program turned upside down over the course of 18 months.
As the graph below indicates, the city went from earning up to $30 per ton for recyclables in early 2017 to paying as much as $100 per ton a year later. Over the course of 2018, the city’s program lost a total of $130,000.
Walla Walla, which attributed the financial flip primarily to China’s National Sword import policy, has instituted a monthly recycling surcharge on resident bills to help get the program back on solid financial footing. The city’s program collects standard fiber items and plastics Nos. 1 and 2. It does not accept glass.
Data source: City of Walla Walla, Wash.
This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.