Jonesboro, Tenn. (WJHL) – Mayor Chuck West of Jonesboro warns that the termination of curbside recycling in Jonesboro is a foreshadowing for other cities in the vicinity.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
On Nov. 1, the city sent a letter to residents informing them of the discontinuation of curbside recycling pick-up. The letter attributes the decision to damage sustained by the recycling center, but West claims there is another factor involved.
“The market for selling recyclables has significantly collapsed,” said West. “This program is not inexpensive, and when you are unable to resell your recyclables, unfortunately, this is the predicament we find ourselves in.”
According to West, the resale market has been struggling since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recycled materials are often sold to municipalities for processing. The letter states that in 2022, the city of Jonesboro was able to sell cardboard for $150 per ton, whereas at the time of reporting, the city could only fetch $25 per ton. Tennessee law mandates that municipalities must generate a profit in order to provide recycling as a service.
West expressed concerns that Jonesborough’s recycling issue could become more widespread in other areas.
“I’m certain there are other municipalities the size of Jonesboro [that] are confronting the same problem,” said West. “Because you either have to substantially raise rates or cut expenses, and we have chosen to reduce expenses.”
West cited the example of the city of Kingsport, which officially terminated curbside recycling earlier this year after suspending it during the pandemic.
West informed News Channel 11 that the decision to discontinue recycling in Jonesboro was not an easy one. He mentioned that Jonesboro residents have had access to recycling options for decades.
“It’s disheartening for the board to make this decision, but sometimes you have to make these financial choices, and hopefully in the near future, the market will change and we can resume curbside recycling,” West added.
The city’s recycling center reportedly suffered damage during a storm but will be repaired. West revealed that the insurance money only covered half of the repair costs.
The city plans to establish two drop-off facilities for recyclable items. City leaders are hopeful that a company will collect and process those recyclables.
Curbside bin collections will commence this week.