The city of Laramie will no longer accept plastics with recycling codes 3-7 as recyclable materials under a new contract approved by Laramie City Council on Tuesday.
Any plastics 3-7 that residents put into recycling bins will now be sorted out and landfilled, and the city will ultimately be charged an extra fee for processing those materials by recycling contractor Waste Management.
The change reflects the now existent market for recycled plastics 3-7. Because Waste Management has been unable to find companies wanting to use those plastics, the plastics 3-7 collected from the city of Laramie have, in recent years, have been trucked to Denver where they sit in a warehouse.
“This wasn’t a decision we made to reduce our recycling, there simply just is not a market for this plastic,” council-member Brian Harrington said. “If we want to counter this, then reduction is the only option. So quit using plastics 3-7 if you can.”
In January, plastics 3-7 accounted for 2.6% of the city’s recycling stream.
The new contract comes at the end of the city’s previous eight-year contract with Waste Management. The city put out a request for qualifications in October, but Waste Management was the only company to put in a bid.
“They’re the only ones within 5,000 miles that handles this quantity of materials,” Public Works Director Brooks Webb said.
The new contract only runs through the end of 2022, with options for the city and Waste Management to extend the contract through the end 2024.
Having a shorter contract this time will give the city more flexibility in case aspects of its recycling program need to change in three years, or if more market competition develops for the city’s recycling stream, Webb said.
Under the current contract, the city will pay Waste Management $95 for every ton of recyclable materials that are process. That fee might change in coming years based on the market. The city and Waste Management evenly split the revenue generated from the sale of those materials.
However, the city is charged extra for loads of recyclable materials that contain excessive non-recyclable waste.
If a truckload is more than 15% contaminated, the city is charged an extra $5 per ton.
That fee increases with greater percentages of contamination. A truckload with greater than 35% contamination means an extra $50 per ton fee for the city.
Laramie’s curbside single stream recycling program began in September 2011. Since then, the city has sent nearly 21.5 million pounds of materials to Waste Management’s facilities in Denver. In the current fiscal year, the city expects to collect $102,352 in recycling fees from residents in local businesses.
The city collects materials from each residential and business user every-other week and takes it to the Landfill Baler Building where it is offloaded, baled and loaded into a trailer for transport.
Webb said it doesn’t appear that market forces will force the city to drop other products from its recycling program in the near future, but the city is in discussions with another Colorado company to possibly restart recycling glass.