Questions about Evansville recycling fee increased

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- Starting in January, Evansville residents will shell out more for recycling. The city council approved the increase on Monday. This has left many with a lot of questions. But that also means Tri-state Resource Recovery, the company in charge of the city’s recycling program, will stay open.

On our Eyewitness News Facebook page, we asked how you feel about the increase. Many of you said you don’t and that’s the same point of view councilwoman Missy Mosby took when we spoke with her before the vote.

“We shouldn’t keep tacking on fees to our constituents,” Missy Mosby says. “In my second ward there’s a lot of people, throughout the city and in the second ward, that they live paycheck to paycheck and this increase may not affect some people but the majority of people it does it’s going a detriment to them and how they’re going to figure out their budget.”

Others wanted to know if money is made and where it goes, so we asked.

“Revenues that comes from the sale of the material fund the operation of the business,” Brian Whitesell explains.

Things like salaries and electricity. But the problem is, why is this being talked about now? Why an increase right now?

EWSU Says tristate resource recovery hasn’t made money in years. They actually started loosing in 2017. But as of June 30th of this year, they’ve lost more than $400,000.

“Because of restrictions going into China and other overseas markets it’s provided a glut of material here domestically basically created an oversupply with not enough demand and that’s driven the price down,” Whitesell says. “It used to be back in 2017 and prior that we had international markets that we would offer the commodities to. It had a greater demand it had a lot greater value to it.”

Brian Whitesell broke down how the numbers for us. He says it costs about 84 dollars to process a ton of recycling. But he says that’s not close to how much they get back.

“The aggregate value of all of the recycling that comes into our facility through the single-stream facility is approximately $18 per ton. That’s an average sales value for those commodities. it’s been as high as 90 and $100 before.”

Whitesell says around 65% of people in Evansville participate in recycling and he doesn’t expect that number to drop with the increase.

We also asked how much of our recycling ends up in the landfill anyway.

They say the majority of the things recycled can be sold. But about 13 percent of what’s put in the containers can’t be recycled but that’s partly because many put in items like garden hoses, which cannot be recycled here.

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(This story was originally published on Dec. 17, 2019)

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