Price increase among proposed changes for Tacoma recycling

TACOMA, Wash. -- Much of what we recycle here in the US is processed across the Pacific in China. But China has changed the rules about what it will accept, and that's making recycling a lot more expensive.

Local governments have been struggling with the added costs, and many are still searching for solutions.  That includes Tacoma, where city officials say recycling is costing too much and they need to find a new plan.

“They {China} told us our recyclables were too contaminated, so we have to find new places to take recyclables. That has driven up the cost of recycling," said Tacoma City Council Member Ryan Mello.

Mello says due to the increased cost of transportation, labor, and changes with China, where the recycling is sent, the city is forced to come up with a new recycling plan.

Mello says the city considered several options including getting rid of curbside recycling altogether, but the community did not want that.

"They want to do whatever it is going to take to clean up the recycling system," he said.

From community input, the city came up with its plan which will include three major changes.

Plastic bags, and shredded paper will no longer be permitted in curbside pick-up.

Glass will also not be allowed in curbside pick-up. Instead, the city will create satellite drop-off points for glass items.

Finally, a monthly surcharge of $3.40 (about $40 per year) will be applied to each customer.

The money would go toward costs, as well as educating the public on proper recycling.

Tacoma resident Travis Shumate says it's worth the investment.

"I think it's a small price to pay for a sustainable solution," he said.

Mello says the extra cost would not be applied to members of the community who are in the low-income program, and after a year city council would re-evaluate the changes.

The plan will be voted on by the council in July. If it passes, it will take effect this fall.