TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Changes might be in store with regard to the city’s recycling program, but before any changes take place the City Council said it’d like to receive input from residents.

The recycling program was a lengthy topic of discussion at the City Council meeting on Monday.

“We are faced with an issue of market demand and cost for the recycling products,” Utility Services Supervisor Bill Baxter told the council at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.

The tough question now that it costs more to recycle products than it does to trash them at the landfill, he said, is: “How do we handle the recycling issue of cost and disposal?”

The current recycling program kicked off in 2010, but has been in operation in various forms since about 2005. Profits were shared between the city and PSI Environmental Services, which administers the program, but just a couple of years later profits started to dwindle. Today it comes in as a debit, said PSI Manager John Brewster.

Much of the challenge stems from outside of the U.S. China, he said, which previously accepted about 50 percent of the world’s recycled products, has drastically trimmed the amount it will accept to 0.5 percent.

For Twin Falls, it means items can be trashed for less money that it costs to recycle them. In January, it cost $35 a ton for recycling, Brewster said during a slide presentation. In February, the price jumped to $136 a ton.

“It’s not just a Twin Fall problem,” Brewster said. “It’s a global problem.”

If the city decides to keep the program, residents will likely see a bump in their utility bills. But that's something the council was not hasty to make decision on.

According to the city, options include:

further restricting materials to those with highest market value and reduced contamination; continue the recycling program in some form with possible price increases; or temporarily discontinue the city recycling program until market conditions improve.

Council members said they’d like dive into the subject a little deeper before making a decision and plan to revisit the topic at their next meeting on March 5. They invite residents to come to the meeting to give their input about the recycling program.

Pilot Program
Brewster also reported on a pilot program in which residents in parts of the city had the option to use smaller containers for recycling. The draw was that the smaller containers carried a smaller rate.

Fifty-two 35-gallon containers and 76 65-gallon containers were distributed to homes from Addison Avenue to Falls Avenue and from Locust Street to Eastland Drive.

“It has been pretty successful,” Brewster said, noting of the 129 people who signed up for the pilot program, only one had cancelled.

The program works well with the elderly and others with fixed incomes, he said, and the option will soon expand to areas from North College Road to the city’s north boundary, and from Blue Lakes Boulevard to the west boundary.