Tacoma resets curbside recycling, bans shredded paper

The city of Tacoma, Wash. is now charging residents a monthly recycling surcharge of $2.82 to cover the increased costs of processing recyclables.

On October 29, 2019, City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 28623, which establishes the following to changes to the City’s residential recycling program:

  • Maintain residential curbside commingled recycling service with minor adjustments to the list of acceptable materials – removing shredded paper and plastic bags from the list);
  • Stop curbside glass collection and provide satellite recycle centers and/or satellite glass drop-off boxes effective in early 2020;
  • Add a $2.82 surcharge per customer per month to cover the increased costs of recycling and provide resources for improved customer recycling education effective January 1, 2020;
  • Residential customers who qualify for Environmental Services’ utility affordability assistance program (Discount Rate Program and Bill Credit Assistance Plan) will be exempt from the surcharge.

The city noted that the majority of its recyclables are sold overseas, mainly in Asia, where countries have adopted strict policies regarding material quality. Materials that do not meet the new requirements are rejected. There is low to no tolerance for dirty or improperly sorted items. In the recent past, materials were marketed at a profit. As a result of the new policies, the city is facing increased costs to maintain its recycling program.

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