Surprise, Arizona, suspends city’s recycling program

Surprise, Arizona, suspends city’s recycling program

City announces recyclables temporarily will be diverted to landfill because of rising costs and a ‘volatile recycling market.’

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August 13, 2019

Effective Aug. 19, Surprise, Arizona, temporarily will divert recyclables to the landfill as the city researches cost-effective solutions to mitigate the impacts of increased recycling operational costs.

"While this is not an easy decision, it will forgo the need for a rate increase," the city says in a news release announcing the suspension of recyclables collection.

Plunging commodity prices for many recyclables and rising costs to process residential curbside recyclables at a third-party operated recycling center resulted in the change to the recycling program, the city says.

Surprise began curbside recycling in 2004. Revenue generated by the recyclables helped offset the cost of providing the service; however, since Dec. 2017, when China began restricting imports of recyclables, the city has paid nearly $215,000 to continue the program, which it "can no longer absorb,” the city says.

The city encourages customers to continue practicing positive recycling behaviors by putting plastics, cardboard, paper and aluminum cans in the blue recycling container.

“While we evaluate cost-effective solutions, we want residents to continue the practice of placing the correct recycling items in the blue bin, so that when we find a solution people will have never changed their habit of separating recyclables from trash,” says Public Works Director Mike Gent.

The city says drop-off costs have increased from $17,412 in 2018 to $48,425 in 2019. As a result, the city says it will close its recycling drop-off center.

Components of the city’s recycling program, including education and inspection, will continue as part of the city’s commitment to environmental sustainability, according to the news release.