SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The rising cost of recycling is prompting the City of Surprise to end its recycling program, at least for now.
Starting August 19, Surprise will "temporarily" start diverting all recyclable materials to the landfill while the city looks for ways to cuts costs.
Trucks will still come by and pick up residents' blue (recycle) and black (trash) bins, but now, the contents of both bins will go the landfill.
The city is also closing its recycling drop-off location at 13430 W. Westgate Drive.
"Like many communities across the country, the city of Surprise recycling program is struggling to maintain existing service levels amid soaring operational costs," reads a statement from the city. "The city began curbside recycling in 2004 and the revenue generated by the recyclables helped to offset the cost of providing the service. However, since December 2017 the city has incurred growing expenses to the program (nearly $215,000), which we can no longer absorb."
Some Surprise dwellers are not too pleased with the change.
"It makes me really sad. We recycled weekly, and our bin was pretty full with our trash bin being fairly empty," said Karen Peck, a Surprise resident. "And now we have to look at our huge trash pin and say, 'Now, all of that is going to end up in a huge hole in the Earth and it's not going to go away.'"
City officials say this was not an easy decision, but helps forgo the need for a rate increase. They say that if the recycling program were to continue, customer rates would increase immediately by $1.20 per month.
"We are seeking innovation right now. We need to disrupt the current recycling industry that's, in many ways, failing our public," said Mike Gent, director at Public Works. "In our mind we were saying, 'Can we responsibly ask residents to pay more to pretend to recycle since it's not all really being recycled?'"
So even though the recyclables will be going to the landfill, the city is till encouraging customers to "continue practicing positive recycling behaviors" by only putting clean plastic bottles, cardboard, paper and aluminum cans in the blue recycling container.
“While we evaluate cost-effective solutions, we want residents to continue the practice of placing the correct recycling items in the blue bin, so that when we find a solution, people will have never changed their habit of separating recyclables from trash,” says Public Works Director Mike Gent.
Arizona and Maricopa County solid waste regulations require that only un-bagged and clean recyclable items be placed in the blue recycling container to avoid container contamination and the attraction of insects and rodents to the container while it is curbside.
As always, bagged trash must only be placed in the black container. If you choose to throw recyclables in the black container, they must be bagged.
Even though the city's recycling drop-off location will be closed, Surprise officials say that some components of the city’s recycling program, including education and inspection, will continue as part of the city’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Meantime, the city says it will continue researching solutions and hopes to resume traditional recycling as soon it can find a cost-effective answer.
If you have additional questions please contact Utility Billing at 623-222-1900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning August 19, the city of Surprise will temporarily divert recyclable materials to the landfill as it researches cost-effective solutions to mitigate the impacts of increased recycling operational costs. Learn how this impacts you: https://t.co/P5mfOmYIFY pic.twitter.com/agzB9Q2qil— City of Surprise (@AZSurprise) August 12, 2019