Kentucky city launches paper recycling pilot project

Lexington, Kentucky, has begun to trial a new pilot program for its recycling center. Starting the week of Oct. 14, city employees were asked to put clean, dry paper in bins throughout Lexington City Hall marked “paper only.”

In May, the city’s material recovery facility, the Lexington Recycle Center, temporarily suspended paper recycling as a result of the overabundance of recovered fiber available in domestic markets. Since then, Lexington has been working to improve its recycling program with help from Resource Recycling Systems, a consulting firm headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Lexington’s Division of Waste Management will issue a new request for proposal to explore options for reinstating communitywide paper recycling.

Brightmark seeks communities for plastics recycling facilities

Brightmark Energy, a San Francisco-based waste and energy development company, has announced that it is launching a nationwide search for U.S. locations suitable for its next set of advanced recycling facilities. The company reports in a news release that it hopes these additional facilities will help to “convert hundreds of thousands of tons of postconsumer plastics into new products, including fuels, wax and other products.”

A search for potential sites began Nov. 19 with a webinar and formal submissions from interested communities.

The company says it wants to work with communities that can provide strong local, regional and state support for project development through incentives and improved plastic recycling programs; access to at least 200,000 tons per year of Nos. 1-7 plastics; access to 30 to 100 acres of suitable land with access to rail and highways; and natural gas and electric utility support. Other criteria will be detailed in a forthcoming request for proposal.

Brightmark says it anticipates completing site selection by the second quarter of 2020.

The company says it expects to make investments of about $500 million to $1 billion at each site and to create more than 100 jobs in each host community. Additional indirect economic activity is expected to occur in each chosen community as a result of the projects.

Brightmark’s technology converts mixed plastics into ultra-low-sulfur diesel, naphtha and wax. The process also can create building blocks to make new plastics.

“The United States is facing a major plastics recycling shortfall,” says Brightmark President and CEO Bob Powell.

“Imagine a world without plastic waste,” he continues. “We’ve got a proven, market-ready solution, which we will be scaling up nationally to meet this demand.”

Tacoma, Washington, removes glass from curbside program

The Tacoma, Washington, City Council has passed an ordinance that will make changes to the city’s residential curbside collection program, including adding a $2.82 per month recycling surcharge for all residential recycling customers as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Most of the surcharge, about $2.32, will cover the increased costs of processing, marketing and shipping recyclables that have arisen from global recycling industry changes. This portion of the surcharge is set to be reexamined in December 2022.

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The remainder of the surcharge, roughly 50 cents, will be used to fund increased education and outreach for the city’s residential curbside recycling program through Dec. 31, 2023.

The changes to the city’s program also include the decision to stop curbside glass collection. Instead, the city will add five glass drop-off stations to provide collection venues for this material. The city will continue to collect glass through its curbside collection program until the five drop-off sites have been opened, which is expected to be in early 2020.

Tacoma also has removed shredded paper and plastic bags from its curbside recycling program.

In announcing the change, Lewis Griffith, Tacoma’s solid waste management division manager, says, “The global recycling industry has changed dramatically since China greatly reduced its recycling imports in 2018.

“The recycling program changes accepted by city council were selected after extensive community input as well as evaluating the best strategies to keep our local recycling programs sustainable,” he continues.

Griffith adds that the city’s solid waste management team will continue to monitor how these changes affect its customers and programs.