Human Support Services announced last week that it will no longer accept cardboard for recycling, at least for now.
“It’s a struggle because we want to be able to provide it for the community because people have become so reliant on it,” HSS Executive Director Anne Riley said.
The nonprofit has been accepting cardboard from both individuals and businesses from the community for about 20 years. It then recycles the cardboard at the recycling center behind its office at 988 State Route 3 in Waterloo.
Riley said HSS collected about 20 bales worth of cardboard a month. That is about 10 tons.
HSS did not profit from the effort, as any money went toward paying two HSS clients to work at the recycling or the cost of pickup.
“It’s always been a break even operation for us,” Riley noted.
That is no longer the case due to the ongoing trade war with China, which has lowered the amount of containments it accepts in recycling. Much of America’s recycling goes to China.
Columbia and Waterloo have both helped subsidize recycling by implementing a 60 cents per month surcharge on the service.
For HSS, however, Riley estimated the organization would lose about $10,000 in the next six months if it did not discontinue its recycling.
“As a nonprofit, we just cannot throw that money out the window,” Riley said.
Riley also said HSS hopes this is only temporary, but there is no estimate when the trade war will be over and China will change its regulations.
In the meantime, the two HSS clients who worked at the recycling center are out of work. HSS is working to find an alternative employer for them.
Riley said anyone interesting in hiring “reliable, capable” workers can contact HSS at 939-4444 or hss1.org.
A job coach from HSS will work with these clients until they are capable of doing their jobs by themselves.
At least for now, the community can take its cardboard to the Monroe County Recycling Center, which is located at the rear of the building at 901 Illinois Avenue in Waterloo.
That facility is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Cardboard dropped off there must have no food or grease on it and be removed from the packaging. It can also not be a waxy lined container or carton.
This service is free.
For more tips on reducing recycling containments, go to columbiaillinois.com/235/Garbage-Recycling-Pickup or call Reliable Sanitation at 939-3333.