A pile of plastic scrap sits in Columbia’s recycling sorting plant, awaiting further processing. | Kristoffer Tigue/Missouri Business Alert

Sustainability Notebook: Municipal recycling challenges continue; Columbia to award businesses



Missouri’s recycling industry continues to face a precarious future, stemming from a January ban of imported recycling goods going into China.

Two more Missouri cities have reported facing major hurdles running their municipal recycling programs, blaming the China ban for taking away the world’s biggest market and sending the price for recycling goods plummeting.

On Thursday, officials with the city of Fulton said the city wouldn’t be renewing a contract with a Jefferson City recycler due to the company raising its prices, the Fulton Sun reports.

Costs to dispose of local recyclables rose from $10 per ton last year, to $120 a ton this October, said Bill Johnson, a city administrator

“There is no market for recycled materials right now,” Johnson told the Sun.

The Fulton City Council will next meet Nov. 27, when it will likely discuss how to move forward with the city’s recycling options.

And on Oct. 29, the city of O’Fallon switched its single-stream recycling program to dual-sort to better be able to compete in the tougher marketplace, according to KPLR, the St. Louis Fox affiliate.

“The part changing is paper and cardboard,” O’Fallon Communications Director Tom Drabelle told KPLR. “In the past we were single-stream community and could put all that into a container, now we have to keep that separate.”

While the city will continue to collect glass, aluminum and tin through curbside pickup, residents will have to separate their cardboard and paper and bring them into city recycling drop-off centers. That’s because China is accepting less from single-stream sorting, Drabelle said.

Other cities, including Pacific, have shut down their recycling operations altogether, KPLR reported.

Columbia to award sustainable businesses

Columbia’s Office of Sustainability is now accepting nominees for the 2019 Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement awards, also known as the MPCA awards. Applications opened Oct. 1, and the city will continue accepting them through Dec. 31.

Columbia created the awards in 2014 to recognize local businesses and organizations each year for showing a commitment to reducing negative environmental impacts, advancing sustainable practices and otherwise promoting environmental responsibility.

“Really, we want business that are having impact on the community. Which ones take a creative or innovative approach to sustainability,” said Patricia Weisenfelder, a spokesperson with the city. “We’re also looking at whether they work with other businesses, or what they’re doing is transferable to other ones.”

The award’s 2018 winners included Columbia Public Schools, the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, True/False Film Fest, and a partnership between the Show-Me Cosmopolitan Club and Central Bank of Boone County.

Those interested in nominating a business or organization, or viewing a complete list of past winners, can visit the city’s website.

St. Louis County launches curbside food waste pilot

St. Louis County, in partnership with Republic Services and Total Organics Recycling, launched a new residential food waste pickup program this month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The pilot program, which started Nov. 5, will allow residents of the Brookside subdivision to opt into the program, at no cost, to have their food and yard waste picked up curbside rather than lumping it into trash headed to a landfill.

County officials said back in July residents were given bins, which will get picked up by Republic Services and hauled to Total Organics Recycling, which will process the waste into compost for various soil use.

The pilot will last through June, said Ian Ashcraft with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. If successful, the program may expand to other areas of the county.

“The idea was that this would be a test to see if this is something people would actually do and if the model could work,” Ashcraft told the Post-Dispatch.

So far, about 90 of the 800 residences in the neighborhood have opted into the program, he said, which costs $26,340 and is paid for by a landfill dumping fee.


Missouri Business Alert’s sustainability coverage is funded in part by the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District.

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