Single Stream Recycling Project Ending

By Paul Ploumis

RecyclingMonster - A pilot project to determine the efficacy of a single-stream recycling has run its course in Bonner County.

County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to end the program at the Dufort solid waste collection site because of its cost.

The total cost for single-stream recycling — which involves mixing paper, metals, plastic and glass — was $83,187.90 in the 2019 fiscal year, which was costing the county $115.38 per ton, according to Bonner County Solid Waste Director Bob Howard. The cost to disposing trash, meanwhile, was $82.16 per ton, a difference of $33.22 per ton, Howard said.

“That has cost a lot more money than what it’s worth,” Howard told commissioners.

The board’s action adopts a recommendation by the Bonner County Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

Dufort was the only collection site in Bonner County which offered single-stream recycling.

The Dufort site will still recycle aluminum cans, paper and cardboard. However, glass and plastic containers will be diverted into the traditional waste stream.

Commissioner Dan McDonald said the market for recyclable materials has receded because “bad actors” in the United States mixed in unacceptable materials, which caused push-back from China. Aspirational recycling, which involves consumers putting materials which can’t be recycled into the stream, was also causing problems, according to McDonald.

“What’s happening is the rest of the taxpayers in the county are paying the extra cost. We’ll still have recycling as we always have. We just won’t have single stream,” McDonald said.

Commissioner Jeff Connolly supported the pivot away from single-stream recycling as a business decision.

“At this point, with plastic the way it is, I don’t think it’s a viable thing to do,” Connolly said.