Discontinuing the single stream curbside recycling collection is not just fiscally responsible; it’s environmentally responsible.
As a Councilmember, part of my job is to ensure that we are good stewards of YOUR taxpayer dollars. After China stopped accepting recyclables from the United States in 2017, processing recyclables became more costly for the waste management industry, and those companies pass those costs onto cities like Simpsonville. Whereas Pratt once paid the City for recyclables, Pratt began charging the City for handling recyclables in 2019 at a rate of $25/ton, which has increased 160% to the current $65/ton, and there is nothing stopping Pratt from continuing to increase that rate.
I’ve always been a proud recycler. I feel good when I roll my cart out, and it’s twice as full as the trash cart. I feel good about making a difference. Or I did. Until I learned just how much of our recycling doesn’t actually get recycled. With the 160% increase in cost, and the fact that so much just ends up in the landfill anyway, I no longer feel good about it. It looks less like saving the environment and more like throwing money—taxpayer money—into the landfill under the guise of doing good. I can’t justify that.
We not only need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars; we also need to be good stewards of the environment.
Like many of you, I thought that curbside, single stream recycling was brilliant! It makes doing the right thing quick and easy, right? But often times, making something quick and easy decreases its quality or effectiveness. And that’s what we have here. Single stream, curbside recycling is simply ineffective. In large part, this is because so many people do not follow appropriate recycling procedures for single stream curbside recycling. More effective: recycling at one of the county collections sites. Multiple recycling drop-off centers are located in Greenville County, including four locations in or near Simpsonville: City Park on Park Drive, Brookwood Church on Brookwood Pointe Place, Fountain Inn Elementary School on Fairview Street, and Conestee Park on Mauldin Road. In addition, people can donate their aluminum cans to one of the fire station trailer drop-offs to benefit pediatric burn patients via the S.C. Burned Children’s Fund. If we increase those donations, that multiplies the benefit.
Recycling is the right choice. But we need to do it right if we really want to make a difference. It may take a little more work on each of our parts. I am willing to do that, and I am hopeful many of our like-minded residents will be as well.
In doing so we will be taking a step forward to a more sustainable future.