LACONIA — The city has a new motto, “Glass is trash.”
“Kind of has a nice ring to it,” City Manager Scott Myers said Monday as the City Council told residents to simply throw away glass bottles instead of recycling them through the municipal system.
The company that handles recycling for the city charges by the ton and ends up throwing glass in a landfill anyway because the last company to recycle glass in the Northeast has gone out of business, City Manager Scott Myers said.
To further reduce tonnage, the City Council also decided to close three remote recycling stations, which are popular spots for people to drop off their metal, cardboard, paper, plastic and glass.
“The commodity value of recycled materials has really just fallen away to the point where it is a cost negative to be disposing of recyclable materials,” Myers said. “Right now we are paying more to get rid of recyclables on a per ton basis than if it all went into the trash.”
The Laconia Transfer Station will continue to accept recyclables, but the city is expected to save $70,000 a year by closing recycling stations at the Weirs Community Center, the old City Garage at 257 Messer Street, and Lindsay Court across from the Memorial Park Clubhouse, said Public Works Manager Wes Anderson.
Recyclables pile up at these stations, including from non-residents who are not supposed to use these facilities.
A cardboard station will be set up at the Messer Street location for people who want to drop off this material, which is still considered a desired recyclable.
There will be a four-week notice period before the remote recycling stations close.
Recycling used to pay for itself because the material had more value. Now, it’s cheaper to dispose of it rather than recycle it.
The city pays $102.57 a ton for processing of recyclables and $83.25 a ton for trash that is sent to an energy-from-waste incinerator.
Anderson said the value of all recyclables has decreased sharply over the last few years after China greatly reduced its demand for these materials. Increases in shipping costs and less demand for glass has also contributed to the value decrease.
The city manager has recommended increasing the budget for waste collection next fiscal year by $245,800, bringing total spending on solid waste to $1.9 million. But even with that increase, costs are likely to exceed the budget by $52,000 if changes aren’t made.