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Waste Management rebuts city on recycling; firms step into breach

By JACK WEATHERLY

Waste Management of Mississippi Inc. adamantly denied in a recent prepared statement that any of the recyclable materials that it had picked up for the city of Jackson had ended up in the city landfill, contrary to statements attributed to the Jackson public works director.

The city broke off its contract with Waste Management effective Sept. 1.

All curbside recyclable materials collected under the City of Jackson contract have ALWAYS been delivered to a permitted recycling facility,” the Waste Management statement continued. “Recyclable materials collected by Waste Management on behalf of the City were delivered, stored and shipped from a separate Waste Management recycling transfer building located on Country Club Drive in Jackson to the recycling facility.

Until Sept. 1, the recyclable materials were delivered by Waste Management to Waste Management of Little Rock and a Recycling Facility in Shreveport, La. Prior to this arrangement, the materials were delivered to Fiber Vision Recycling in Sumrall, Miss. These recyclable materials were not landfilled. At no time during its contract with Waste Management did any City employee or official raise any concern with Waste Management over whether the recyclable materials were being handled properly.”

Public Works Director Robert Miller was quoted in an article in the Jackson Free Press that some of the recyclable material was winding up in the landfill, with other solid waste. The article seemed to say that homeowners were at fault as well by mixing their garbage and recyclables. Miller said that the $96,000 a month the city was paying Waste Management for the recycling service would be better used by addressing illegal dumping sites in the city.

A call to Miller by the Mississippi Business Journal this week was not returned.

The city posted on its website last month that Jackson is “one of hundreds of cities across the United States that have recently suspended their curbside recycling program as the market demand for recycled materials has diminished drastically.”

The Atlantic Monthly magazine reported earlier this year:

For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. 

But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.”

The statement from the city of Jackson on its website states that “items such as hazardous waste, paint, electronics and cooking oils can still be recycled at the Environmental Service Center. Our drop-off facility is located at 1570 University Boulevard.”

The Associated Press reported that “the halt on China’s imports of wastepaper and plastic that has disrupted U.S. recycling programs has also spurred investment in American plants that process recyclables.

Among those that are benefiting from municipalities halting curbside pickups are two local firms.

Door 2 Door Recycling offers pickups every other week. Information services and charges are on the company website, www.door2doorrecycling.com.

EnvironMentality’s business is booming with the cessation of pickups by the city, said co-owner Karissa Bowley.

Information may be obtained by going to the company website, environmentality.org, or by calling (601) 720-8728 or (601) 566-5739.

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About Jack Weatherly