Down in the Dumps with Recycling
You’ve probably heard by now, recycling across the country is in the dumps which totally makes us at the City of Nacogdoches feel like a pile of junk. But, there may be an eventual solution for our little community—keyword, maybe, so stick with me.
If you haven’t heard, here’s the story: China has an import ban on recycled goods (another story for another day) and the USA used to send most of our recyclables for their reuse purposes. Paper, mixed plastic, glass, and cardboard being the main contenders. These products are collected, sorted, compressed, and shipped across the globe.
As with most unseen government services, citizens recycle and believe magic takes it away for the greater good at zero cost. This is great in prospect, but as with many things in local government, that’s not quite how it works.
Recycling across the country is a business, and the City of Nacogdoches has not been immune to these market fluctuations. It is a classic example of supply and demand, and we are short on the latter.
One source says Americans recycle nearly 87 million tons of waste each year. This has worked for the past several decades because the demand for these goods was high across the globe. However, these changes are forcing the City of Nacogdoches, and nearly all municipalities, to place most recyclables in the landfill.
Currently, the City of Nacogdoches typically spends around $60,000 each year to sort, process, and transport recyclable goods. This number is projected to increase greatly if changes are not made in the short-term.
These changes are on the heels of a newly installed cardboard baler at said landfill. Funding was awarded last year from the Deep East Texas Council of Governments in the amount of $16,250 for a cardboard storage building while an anonymous donor gave $54,000 via Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful for the baler. This type of support shows that recycling is important to many and is the light at the end of this trash filled tunnel.
The purpose of the baler is to allow the City of Nacogdoches to compress our recycled cardboard and sell to someone who wants it. Thanks to online shopping, we do make minimal profits off the sale of cardboard—the only recycled good with any demand in the market at the present time. This saves space in the landfill and helps us to do our part in the green initiative. What is yet to be seen is if the sale of cardboard long-term will fund the cost of recycling other items such as plastic.
Click here for more information on this topic by listening to NacChat Episode 33 featuring Steve Bartlett, City Engineer.
Amy Mehaffey began her work with the City of Nacogdoches in July 2015. Prior to this, she worked as a 4-H Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. In this role she did marketing and promotion for the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program and served as the event coordinator for Texas 4-H Roundup, the agency’s largest event. Amy graduated in May 2015 with her PhD in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences with an emphasis in youth development. During the pursuit of this degree she also received a certificate in Prevention Science and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Previously, she completed a Master’s of Science in Agricultural Communications at Texas A&M University and a Bachelor’s of Science in the same field at Texas Tech University. Amy is also a freelance photographer and enjoys Texas A&M football in the fall. She is married to John Michael Mehaffey who is a professor of Animal Science at Stephen F. Austin State University. They are proud parents to Hattie Mae Mehaffey, born September 1, 2016 and are expecting another, Hunter Leigh Mehaffey in July 2018.