Recycling of paper, plastic, and aluminum continues to make significant inroads locally, despite a shrinking market due to export costs of shipping waste to China.
As the world’s largest importer and recycler of scrap that includes metals, plastic and paper, China last year told the World Trade Organization it intended to ban certain imports of refuse out of environmental fears. That decision caused groups such as the Bureau of International Recycling to warn of consequences such as job losses, recycling facility shutdowns and an increase of waste sent to landfills.
But even the most casual observer isn’t finding those impacts in St. Joseph.
Bill Blacketer, the city’s superintendent of solid waste and recycling, said the recycling market’s turmoil has yet to touch Northwest Missouri. Activity at the city’s recycling center on the South Belt Highway remains brisk.
“They market it and they get a portion of the revenue back,” said Blacketer of recycling contractors. “I don’t hold much hope that recycling will pay for itself.”
The center accepts such items as aluminum, clear and brown glass, mixed office paper, newspapers and tin.
“Flow through there is real good,” Blacketer said. “We’ve increased considerably.”
Numbers document the stepped-up bustle. He said nearly 42,000 vehicles loaded with recyclables passed through the center last year, an improvement from the almost 40,000 reported for 2016.
The center processed more than 1.1 million pounds of recyclable materials in 2017, a slight rise beyond the 1 million pounds brought in for recycling a year earlier.
St. Joseph Habitat for Humanity is among community groups that participate in recycling with the “Green House Project” that collects aluminum cans in nine hut-like buildings located around the city.
Since April 2015, Habitat has recycled more than $4,800 worth of cans. It also has collected about 4,000 tons of shred, or scrap, metal products at the ReStore, according to its manager, Christy George.
Revenue from the combined efforts will be used to supply a fund to build a Habitat for Humanity house, George said. So far, a total of $26,000 has been raised toward a goal of $68,000 for building a Habitat home.
News-Press Now participates in recycling with one of the Habitat huts and a bin for collecting newspapers, magazines, catalogs and mail.
Bruce Schindler, maintenance supervisor for NPG Newspapers, said the receptacles remain popular with residents. He also said used newsprint and even the aluminum plates used in the printing process go to recycling.