AUGUSTA — One Butler County community has already stopped its recycling program. Another is weighing its options.
Less than two months after El Dorado ended its recycling program citing rising market costs, Augusta officials are deep in discus- sion about what to do with their current automated curbside program. The Augusta city council hosted a work session Monday to deliberate the issue.
Augusta launched single-stream recycling in 2015, making it so citizens did not have to sort recycling, according to Monday’s meeting packet. The city contracted with Waste Connections in Wichita to accept and process its recycling. That contract is set to expire August 31, 2020, according to the original agreement documents attached to the pack- et. City officials have already reached out to renew the contract, but Waste Connections declined.
Now, like many other municipal recycling programs, Augusta faces rising costs. A Chinese ban on waste imports in 2018 was backed by strict contamination standards.
“When residents put things like diapers, mini-blinds and regular household trash into their single-stream blue container, it contaminates the whole load,” the packet stated. “There is not a magical process that exists for removing melted cheese and pepperoni grease from the top of a pizza box to make it clean, recyclable material. It is simply trash at that point.
″With China out of the picture, there is a glut of bad material in the market with no- where physically to take it for disposal.”
City officials have had the recycling program on their minds for months, Augusta Mayor Mike Rawlings said.
“When El Dorado ended theirs, that raised a lot of concern with our citizens,” he said. “We will be upfront with the community as soon as we make the decision. What we need to figure out right now are the logistics.”
Rawlings noted that the issue will be coming up on a future meeting agenda, but it may not be for a couple of months.
“There are a lot of things the staff is still working out,” he said. “There are some citizens from our communications with them that don’t understand why we are stopping it, but they don’t see the economic side of it.”
The city’s information packet on the recy- cling program can be viewed at augustaks.org.