Kent neighbors may see recycling rate hike

KENT, Wash. - Kent residents may have to pay more to recycle.

It’s a local issue stemming from global changes in recycling.

The city's recycling contractor, Republic services, is proposing a monthly surcharge to cover rising costs stemming from China stopping imports of mixed paper and plastic and restricting the level of contamination allowed in recyclables.

China was the top destination for shipping containers filled with recyclables leaving Puget Sound, but garbage buildup there led the government to stop those imports.

Companies are also under increasing pressure to weed out contaminants after a new .5 percent limit China set in 2018 sent global recycling markets into crisis.

Now, people at local recycling centers are sorting and cleaning all the items, which is making the recycling process more expensive. 

The extra charges for Kent residents could be about $3 a month.  The contents of recycling containers could also be evaluated to see if they're contaminated.

Kent's City Council could take up the issue for a full vote in the coming weeks.

The recycling problem is affecting other areas around the Puget Sound region as well.

In Tacoma, proposed changes include:

  • Maintaining curbside pickup with minor adjustments to what can be recycled
  • Eliminating curbside glass collection and, instead, providing satellite recycle centers or drop-off boxes
  • Adding a $3.40 surcharge per customer to cover the increased costs of recycling.