Higher Recycling Costs Have Boise Wondering Whether To Change Its Program

Feb 13, 2018

China’s recent ban on importing plastics upended the global recycling market, which sent ripples into the Treasure Valley last month. That’s now affecting mixed paper in Boise as well.

The majority of what’s picked up from Boise recyclers is mixed paper, which includes things like old bank statements, newspapers and junk mail all thrown together in the blue bin.


Now, City of Boise officials say those materials plus more expensive plastics cost the city $100,000 a month to recycle.


Boise public works director Steve Burgos suggests the city should stop accepting mixed paper for up to a year to wait for better options.


“I think as hard as it is to say, we would discontinue the collection of residential mixed paper in part because there’s just so much variability right now. Maybe that’ll change in a couple weeks. Based on what we’re seeing as staff, likely no,” Burgos says.


Another option floated to the council involves increasing customers’ bills by about two dollars a month to make up the difference.


Seattle and San Jose are temporarily selling their recyclables to different foreign countries, while Portland is still weighing its options.


At Tuesday night’s meeting, city council members took no action but  are planning a public hearing sometime in March.


Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio