Boise & Garden City

Want to keep recycling, Ada County residents? It’ll cost you more.

Confused about Boise’s new recycling program? The City of Boise is here to clarify.

Beginning in mid-April, Boise will phase in a program to send unrecyclable plastics in orange bags to Salt Lake City, where Renewlogy will turn them into diesel. Plastic water bottles and clamshell containers will be trash.
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Beginning in mid-April, Boise will phase in a program to send unrecyclable plastics in orange bags to Salt Lake City, where Renewlogy will turn them into diesel. Plastic water bottles and clamshell containers will be trash.

Ada County is the latest local government forced to take stock of its recycling program following China’s ban on recyclable paper and junk plastics.

The county announced Tuesday that, to cover its recycling costs, it must raise rates to subsidize weak international markets for recyclable materials. More than 19,000 residents who live in unincorporated Ada County participate in the reycling program, county spokeswoman Kate McGwire said. Recycling and garbage pickup services together cost $17.18 per month.

Even if participants remove paper such as newspaper and mail from the recycling stream, the county says it would have to raise rates by 90 cents per household, per month. Keeping the program as it is would cost each household an additional $1.25 per month. Suspending the recycling program altogether would result in a rate reduction of $1 per month in trash-pickup bills per household.

The county is asking residents to fill out an online survey at adacounty.id.gov to say which option they prefer. County Commissioners have scheduled a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, in the public hearing room of the Ada County Courthouse, 200 W. Front St., Boise.

China announced Jan. 1 that it would no longer allow recyclers there to import low-value plastic items, such as flimsy water bottles and clamshell-style containers. Six weeks later, China applied the same ban to mixed paper, which includes most paper and cardboard except corrugated cardboard.

The bans severely limited markets for both paper and low-grade plastics. Western Recycling, which sorts, bales and ships all Treasure Valley recyclables from its Boise plant, has found substitute markets for paper but no buyers for junk plastics.

So far, Treasure Valley cities and counties have continued to allow residents to recycle paper. Boise, Meridian and Garden City have signed on to a program that will collect low-grade plastics — minus water bottles and clamshells — in orange bags to be processed into diesel at a plant in Salt Lake City. Other local governments have simply banned all low-grade plastics.

Ada County commissioners have not set a deadline for deciding whether to continue the recycling program or end it, county spokeswoman Kate McGwire said.

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