Changes to recycling coming to county


Recycling is one of the easiest things that can be done on a daily basis to “save the environment.” 

It’s not even necessary to leave the house to make an impact.

But changes to recycling from an unlikely source are about to effect most Monroe County households.

“About a year ago we paid $12 to $15 a ton for curbside recycling,” said Reliable Sanitation owner Tim Scheibe. “This summer, it jumped to the $65-70 range. In September it was $79 a ton.

“We’ve been absorbing that additional cost,” he added.

At the time the U.S. began lodging tariffs against China, the nation was importing as much as 90 percent of all U.S. co-mingled, or mixed curbside, recycling.

After the U.S. tariffs took effect, China changed its regulations. Instead of accepting recycling with contaminants in the double digit percentile, they dropped to accepting recycling with no more than 5 percent contaminants.

“This just could not be done without a lot of different, extra costs involved,” Scheibe said.

Contaminants are simply non-recyclable items mixed in with the recyclables.

“This is a nationwide problem,” Scheibe said. “Companies are looking at other Third World countries that will accept (recycling), but no luck so far.”

Some communities have had to abandon their curbside recycling programs altogether, but Scheibe said that won’t happen here.

“The communities we serve are strong recycling communities and I don’t want to undo 12 years of recycling culture,” he said.

By comparison, it costs about $30 per ton at local landfills. But don’t worry. Reliable Sanitation has no intention of scrapping recycling and sending all local refuse to the landfill, Scheibe said.

Instead, Scheibe has no choice but to look to the local communities he serves to help cover some of the costs.

“Separate from the negotiated rate the city has with Reliable Sanitation, which is expected to increase slightly in January by no more than the Consumer Price Index, there may be a temporary surcharge, likely of less than $1 per customer, to ensure no disruption of recycling services since the costs of providing them continue to escalate,” said Columbia City Administrator Jimmy Morani.

Waterloo, which is also served by Reliable Sanitation, has not yet firmed up its plans on how to handle the city’s portion of the 400 percent increase in recycling expenses.

“We’re waiting on a meeting with Tim (Scheibe) to make a decision,” said Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith.

Scheibe and the communities his company serves are also hoping to re-educate people on what they can recycle and what they can’t. Reliable Sanitation is based in Waterloo. For more information on the company, call 939-3333 or visit

“We want to keep recycling as easy as possible,” Scheibe reiterated. “We don’t see an end to this problem in sight, but we hope there is one.”

See the graphic to the right for an easy-to-follow, clipable list of common items that can and can’t be recycled.

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