New regulations imposed by China on imported recyclable materials are driving a 3.5 percent rate increase for waste collection services in Cannon Beach.
The change will increase the average customer’s bill by $1 a month starting in January, Carl Peters, general manager for Recology Western Oregon, told the City Council on Aug. 14. Other cities in Clatsop County are facing similar increases.
Until recently, China’s standard allowed a contamination level of 5 percent while processing recycling. Now, the contamination level must be 0.5 percent — a standard that is almost unattainable at most facilities, and beyond what available technology can provide.
“There’s just too much wishful recycling,” Peters said.
Between the new standard, and new tariffs set by China on imported scrap materials in retaliation to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, costs of recycling could continue to climb, Peters said.
Public Works Director Karen La Bonte asked for the rate increase to happen in conjunction with the schedule Recology has set to replace Cannon Beach’s garbage bins with receptacles that have proper latches.
In the past, residents have used bungee cords to secure trash cans to prevent trash from spilling on exceptionally windy days, La Bonte said. Recology has a policy, however, not to pick up these cans as snapping cords have caused safety issues.
Timing the rate increase with replacing the cans makes the billing process simpler and makes it so people “feel they are getting something in exchange for that increase,” La Bonte said.
The city also negotiated to have Recology use 1 percent of the 3.5 percent increase to fund a seasonal position at Cannon Beach’s recycling center. In the height of summer, the center, which offers free recycling drop-off services to residents, is often overloaded by recyclables from out-of-town users taking advantage of the free service or by the influx of visitors.
The seasonal position would help bundle cardboard and manage growing volume so it doesn’t spill out onto the roadway.
“It can get really overwhelming,” La Bonte said.