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Sandy Journal

Sandy moving to biweekly recycling pickup

Mar 08, 2021 11:25AM ● By Justin Adams

Recycling pickup in Sandy City will change to biweekly collection later this year. (Photo via Waste Management)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

Changes are coming to Sandy residents’ recycling pickup. During its Feb. 9 meeting, the Sandy City Council voted to move toward biweekly pickup as part of a new contract with Waste Management.

The change follows a shakeup in the recycled materials market in recent years. For a long time, China was willing to pay a premium for recycled materials. That money helped subsidize recycling programs for cities like Sandy. However, in recent years China has significantly decreased the amount of recycled material it’s willing to purchase. Naturally, the price for recycled materials as a commodity decreased, which has led to an increase in the price for recycling as a service.

“Recycling was subsidized by the commodity value of plastic,” explained Waste Management representative Blake Leonelli during the city council meeting. “That’s why for such a long time the rates were much cheaper than for trash. But when the downturn in the recycling market occurred, that was no longer viable to continue to do that. Recycling unfortunately became more expensive than trash. That’s why the rate increase is where it is.”

The city’s contract with Waste Management is scheduled to expire in November of this year. The two sides have been working on incorporating these new market conditions into a contract renewal for months. That process produced two primary options for the council to consider.

The first option would maintain weekly recycling pickup but would require a fee increase from $3.54 to $5.99 per month for residents. 

The second option would reduce the monthly fee from $3.54 to $3.25, but would change collection from weekly to biweekly. To compensate for the decreased pickup, residents would be able to get a second recycling can for an additional $2.45 per month. 

In addition to those options, a few residents who gave public comment recommended ending the city’s recycling program altogether or at least allow residents to opt out.

That proposal wasn’t discussed by the council, but Councilwoman Brooke Christensen acknowledged that the inability of residents to opt out influenced her vote to support biweekly collection.

“We don’t give people in Sandy an option to opt out of recycling. We’ve forced that decision on them, which I’m fine with, but I don’t think it’s OK to force an increase on them when we have a completely creative and realistic opportunity for them to have the same capacity,” she said.

Resident surveys produced mixed results according to Councilwoman Kris Coleman-Nicholl. 

“Literally, it is 50-50. There is no clear cut majority of citizens who want one or the other,” she said.

On the other hand, Councilwoman Cyndi Sharkey said that she had seen more people supportive of keeping weekly pickup. That led her to vote against the resolution authorizing the administration to negotiate a new contract including biweekly pickup, though she said both options were equally valid.

Sharkey was joined by Councilman Zach Robinson in voting against the resolution. All other council members voted to approve.