Why do I have to pay for curbside recycling?

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Why isn’t recycling always free?

Recycling is beneficial in so many ways – you would think that it should always be free!

Unfortunately, it isn’t always free and if you are wondering why, here are a few facts to consider. Many cities either operate their own waste and recycling programs or contract large commercial haulers to provide trash and curbside recycling services. Programs such as these are often the second greatest expense for municipalities.

Many haulers advertise “free recycling”, but there is a cost to run the recycling program. To collect recyclables haulers must purchase and maintain expensive recycling trucks, employ staff to collect and process materials, purchase fuel, and provide recycling carts or bins. In the end, the expenses involved with recycling collection are often nearly the same as the expenses involved with trash collection. However, unlike trash, which haulers must pay to dispose of at landfills, recyclables once collected can be sold as commodities. This brings down the cost of running the program and makes recycling more economical than waste disposal.

On average, these programs will charge a household $8-$12 a month or more for trash collection and around $3-$5 a month to collect recyclables. Often the costs involved with running a recycling program are passed on to the citizens by combining those costs with trash collection fees or through increased local taxes.

The truth is that recycling isn’t always free because it always costs money to make a recycling program work.

Here in Grand Junction, the City operates its own trash collection service while contracting out recycling services to GJ CRI. This is a unique association which is beneficial not only for us but for our community as well. Although our program still has its costs its voluntary nature, as well as our “multi-stream” approach to the recycling process, allows us to keep the fee for our curbside service well below the national average at just $1.75 per month.