China trade policy impacts local trash rates

Rates for pickup in Seaside are increasing as a result of activity overseas.

Policies in Asia are driving up costs for Seaside Recology customers.

Carl Peters, a general manager for the company, came to Seaside Monday night with a 3.5 percent solid waste collection increase.

The hike is driven by decisions by the Chinese government to cut payments for recycling deliveries, Peters said.

“It’s a problem, and it’s a big problem,” he told the City Council. “It was a commodity. It had value. Now we’re paying over double what it costs for disposing the trash.”

China has gone from accepting 60 to 70 percent of the world’s recycling down to about 20 percent, he said. Twenty-four items were listed as no longer acceptable, including unsorted mixed paper, the largest component of recycling. “Ultimately they said, ‘We don’t want any of it anymore,’” he said.

Trade disputes have further limited the market. Chinese officials may turn away an entire cargo and charge shippers fines of up to $50,000.

As a result, recyclers are facing issues finding personnel to sort conveyor lines and must slow down belts to remove more trash. Inventory that used to be accepted is “not so easy to ship,” Peters said.

Examples of the impact for residential curbside service show a 32-gallon weekly cart at $16.27 per month will increase to $16.54 per month, a difference of 57 cents. A 90-gallon cart weekly cart at $27.12 per month will increase to $28.07 per month, a difference of 95 cents.

While Seaside customers are seeing a rate hike, it’s less onerous than some changes instituted in cities throughout the state, Peters said. Some are passing surcharges on to customers, adding price increases of 10 to 15 percent or suspending service altogether. “That’s what they needed to do, but I won’t pass judgment on it,” he said. “We aren’t going to do that, but it is more difficult and it is more expensive.”

City councilors asked Peters for details on lawn debris and glass recycling. Currently, the options are unavailable to Seaside customers.

The city could designate a recycling center, drop-off capability in Astoria or home recycling.

All come with a fee. “It can be done,” he said. “I would guess on the inexpensive side, you can take it up and dump it at the recycling center in Astoria with a 3 percent increase — about 50 cents a month. But that’s not a lot of service.”

Home lawn debris recycling service might increase between $2 or $3 a month, he added. “We could have a conversation about that,” he said. “The economy of scale makes a lot of difference.”

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution adjusting the solid waste collection rates, effective July 1.


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