PORTAGE COUNTY — Cities and counties around Northeast Ohio are sending out warnings to recycle right, and some are even adding fines and fees. Others are seeing a spike in recycling fees, because companies are forced to do more sorting.
Tossing glass into blue bins is OK in Portage County, but keeping that service comes with a price for everyone.
"You are paying for it. You might as well use it. It’s still the right thing to do. The markets will come back. This has been a cyclical thing for years. This one has just been a deep cut," Portage County Solid Waste Director Bill Steiner said.
He said recycling fees are between $2.21 and $5.50 per month per household, and that price will move closer to the $5.50 mark for all 62,000 homes in the county.
One reason is trucking costs.
The county replaced an entire fleet of trucks used to transport glass to Pennsylvania. The transportation means drive time, gas and paying of the drivers.
Overall, the county spent $38,000 in 2018 recycling glass.
Another problem is contamination.
"We’ve seen rocks. Household trash. Car parts," he said. "Now, you’re seeing the processors not make as much money on the sale of recyclables, so they are passing that cost back through in the form of higher processing costs and it’s just happening across the country."
Across Northeast Ohio and even the rest of the country, some places are no longer taking glass due to costs stemming from overseas.
China changed its policy and implemented an anti-pollution program, shutting out waste paper, metal and plastic unless it is 99.5 percent pure. Steiner said that is nearly impossible, forcing them to increase costs to neighbors.
"Peanut butter jars are the worst, because people don’t realize you can take a spatula to the inside and get that last bit of peanut butter out, and that contaminates the entire bail," he said.
Steiner is working on an outreach program so folks better understand what they can and cannot recycle.