More Changes To BPU Recycling Policy Coming This Year

The recent changes to cardboard box recycling won’t be the only changes Jamestown Board of Public Utilities officials will be making this year.

On Monday, David Leathers, BPU general manager, discussed the challenges the city-owned utility company has been facing when it comes to recycling, which has been happening worldwide ever since China began implementing new policies that restrict the importation of foreign recyclables in 2018.

Leathers said one example of the new challenges being faced is that typically the BPU has been paying $38 a ton to have their paper and cardboard taken to be recycled. In May, BPU officials paid $88 a ton.

He said BPU officials have been discussing some of the changes that will be occurring to recycling for several weeks. Some of those changes were implemented earlier this month, which made some customers unhappy, Leathers said.

Earlier this month, BPU officials announced that the changes to national recycling standards are making an impact locally. Because of the changes, recycling collectors tagged and left behind cardboard recyclables that didn’t meet regulations published on its recycling calendar.

The longtime regulations state that all paper, cardboard and box board recyclables must be flattened and placed in a recycling bin or alternate rigid container or cardboard box labeled “recycling” for collection. The calendar wording further explains that loose recyclables will not be collected.

According to James Alexander, BPU solid waste supervisor, the BPU has not consistently enforced the regulations in the past, but now most customers, instead of just a few, more frequently leave out full boxes containing other items or place piles of flattened or full boxes of recyclables on the ground.

Local residents who purchase online items sometimes place full, larger boxes at the curb, leaving items in them such as Styrofoam and plastic bags, which can’t be recycled.

Leathers said a future change that is most likely to happen by the end of the year is no more dual-stream recycling when it comes to paper and cardboard and plastic and metal. He said there might even be changes to what types of plastic the BPU accepts. Currently, BPU officials accept plastic one through seven, which is indicated inside a triangle located on the bottom.

Leathers said he wants to encourage BPU customers to continue recycling, but hopes people can understand the new challenges with pricing that the city-owned utility is facing. He said the July BPU newsletter, which is included with the customer’s bill, will provide more information about possible changes.

Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said he hopes solid waste customers understand it’s not the idea of BPU officials to make these changes, but they’re necessary because of the national and international recycling market.