Recycling costs could lead to higher sanitation bill in Savannah

City of Savannah looking at recycling contract

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The way we recycle is changing because of changing global recycling markets.

Many cities across the U.S. are having to re-evaluate how recyclables are collected and what’s accepted in those bins.

Savannah’s 10-year recycling contract with a recycling collection company is about to run out at the end of next month. When the contract with Pratt Industries was first signed, they paid the city for the materials collected. Ten years later, a shift in what materials are accepted from the U.S. by other countries has turned the tables, and the city will now have to pay Pratt to take the material. That means there could be a 35-cent increase per month in sanitation services to off-set that cost.

Still, the materials you can recycle will stay the same, despite other services in other municipalities limiting accepted material. According to the city’s sanitation director, whatever change, if any, will be gradual.

“Next year is a transition year. We’ll be looking at how the industry shakes out with the changes in foreign markets and the impact it has on our domestic markets here," explained Savannah Sanitation Director Gene Prevatt. "Currently, we’re doing what is considered single-stream recycling. You put all of your recycles into one container and it’s sorted downstream somewhere. It remains to be seen if that’s what we’re going to have in the long-term. We might have to do more separation at the curb.”

When it comes to straight disposal of certain material at sites like the Dean Forest Landfill, it eats up space faster, so while it might be lower cost, it’s a trade off because of the loss of disposal capacity.

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