Paper recycling is back at six locations in Lexington. Here’s what you need to know.

By Paul Ploumis

RecyclingMonster - Lexington has restarted paper recycling after a more than six-month hiatus, city leaders announced Wednesday, but don’t put paper products in the city’s blue recycling containers.

People can bring paper for recycling to bins at six locations starting Wednesday, Mayor Linda Gorton announced at a newsconference in Constitution Park.

“This is the next step toward re-establishing our paper recycling services,” Gorton said. “This solution isn’t perfect, but it’s progress. For citizens who just don’t feel right about throwing away paper — and that’s me — it’s a good answer.”

Large yellow recycling bins for paper products will be at these locations:

  • Masterson Station Park, 3051 Leestown Road
  • Constitution Park, 1670 Old Paris Road
  • Veterans Park, 650 Southpoint Dr.
  • Good Foods CoOP, 455 Southland Dr.
  • Lexington Recycle Center, 360 Thompson Road
  • Pleasant Ridge Park, 1350 Pleasant Ridge Dr.

The bins accept newspapers, office paper, paper mail, magazines and catalogs. The bins do not accept cardboard or paper board, such as cereal and other food boxes.

The city suspended all paper recycling in May after it could not find a buyer for its paper recycled products. For months, prior to the stoppage, the city was giving its paper products away. Attempts to find a buyer for the type of recycled paper produced by the Thompson Road facility were unsuccessful.

Many cities across the country have suspended all recycling operations after China upped its standards for the cleanliness of recycling materials it would buy, upending the market. Lexington’s recycling center is single stream, which means all recycling goes into the same container and is separated and cleaned at the Thompson Road facility. The product the facility produces is dirtier than presorted recycled materials.

This fall, the city started a pilot project in city government — collecting paper recycling that was separated from other recycled goods. There is still a market for the cleaner, presorted paper, said Nancy Albright, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works.

“As long as we can keep a clean stream of paper coming into the bins, we’ll be able to continue this program while we explore long-term solutions,” Albright said.

The city’s blue recycling bins do not have a separate container for paper products. Retrofitting those containers would cost a lot of money, officials said. The city wants to wait and see what happens within the recycling market before making permanent changes, said Angela Poe, a program manager for the Department for Environmental Quality and Public Works.

Gorton cautioned that people should dump the paper products directly into the large, yellow containers. Prior to the start of Wednesday’s press conference, Gorton looked into the yellow paper recycling bin at Constitution Park and found paper bundled in a plastic bag.

Don’t do that, she said.

Gorton said she has been inundated with questions about the future of paper recycling since the city scotched it this spring.

“I hear from citizens about this issue on a daily basis,” Gorton said. “Having the option to recycle paper is important for our city.”

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman James Brown, who attended Wednesday’s press conference, agreed.

“People really care about this,” Brown said. “I’ve been at neighborhood meetings and people will corner me about recycling.”

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