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SOUTH OGDEN — The Weber County School District is doing away with their dumpsters and recycling bins that used to handle plastics, aluminum, and steel. The reason: they say increased costs make it too expensive to keep paying recycling companies to take the materials.
“It’s just becoming so cost prohibitive with the global market and what’s going on with recycled goods that are not being taken by a lot of the companies,” District Spokesman Lane Findlay explained. “The cost to recycle those is more than double what it would be for us to send it out with the trash.”
School District employees recently got notice that the dumpsters and bins would soon go away. Some schools are continuing to recycle paper and cardboard through private contracts.
“As far as since 2011, there’s been a robust recycling program here,” Findlay said. “It’s pretty unfortunate. Nobody’s happy about it.”
For people in the recycling business, the move is not surprising. Dorothy Thyberg, owner of Bloom Recyclers in Ogden says she got word back in 2016 that China would stop buying post-consumer plastics.
“At this point, there aren’t many places to take it,” Thyberg said. “Vietnam and India are markets that are being expanded on, but you know they don’t have the infrastructure to do it.”
The recent collapse in the market is creating a huge supply of post-consumer plastics in the United States, with very little demand for it. Thyberg says luckily, those materials only represent a very small percentage of her business. Metals are what pay the bills.
“We used to take 30 to 40 types of plastic, and now we take half a dozen,” Thyberg said. “I can’t imagine recycling plastic and being able to make a go of it right now if that’s all you did.”
Findlay says the decision in the Weber School District all came down to what they could afford.
“You hate to take away from other programs and from students,” Findlay said. “We’re just forced to make a tough decision.”
Findlay says if the market improves in the future, the recycling programs could be picked up again. For now, the focus is on leaving a smaller environmental footprint.
“There’s an initiative to try to go paperless within the district,” Findlay explained. “There’s been replacement of a lot of the old incandescent light bulbs with new high-efficiency lighting.”