SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Recycling may be good for the environment, but it's becoming extremely expensive for many cities and towns across the nation, including in western Massachusetts.
In fact, Springfield will soon go from paying zero to recycle to possibly paying more than a million dollars to pick up residents bottles, cans, paper, and plastic.
That is the $1 million, or $1.1 million to be exact, question.
There's a lot of buzz among residents on the street and in online forums about the possibility of having to pay higher trash and recycling fees, so we talked to Chris Cignoli, Springfield's DPW director to get some answers.
We found out that this is not just a Springfield issue, but one facing cities and towns all across the U.S. and in western Masaschusetts.
"So this is what gets them the most money," Cignoli explained.
Cignoli broke down the recycling numbers and they aren't what they used to be.
"What we call AMV, average market value," Cignoli said.
Cignoli told Western Mass News, no so-called recyclable is valued as it once was. In fact, some are simply no longer being recycled - period.
"Glass and paper and contaminated paper, vendors are now having to pay to get rid of that stuff then truly recycling it, which makes no sense. When you think about glass, you would think it would be logical for recycling," Cignoliadded.
Springfield is what's called a 'single stream' community, meaning residents put all recyclables - glass, paper, and plastic - into one bin. It's easier for residents, but Cignoli said turns out, it is becoming much more expensive.
"Springfield is a 'single stream' community and the price for disposal of recycling under that contract is just a hair under $150 a ton to get rid of recycling and for context, we pay $75 dollars to get rid of trash, so getting rid of recycling now is double what it costs to get rid of recycling material over trash. [Reporter: Why?] There's no...the simple thing is there is no international market for recycled material," Cignoli noted.
Cignoli told Western Mass News that right now, Springfield generates about 7,000 tons of recycling each year.
Under the current contract, it's free, but that contract with Waste Management and the Department of Environmental Protection expires on June 30.
If the city renews, Cignoli said it will cost $1.1 million for the year, starting July 1, to recycle.
"This is a six, seven million dollar issue for all the communities in western Mass. put together, so everybody's feeling the same amount of pain at this point," Cignoli said.
Right now, Cignoli said the city is looking at other, more economical contractors, but bottom line: every community, he said, will have to pay to recycle moving forward.
How will they pay? The current Springfield trash fee for residents is $90 per year.
"Our goal is never to increase the trash fee, however...We're going to look under every rock to find the best financial situation for the city," Cignoli added.
Cignoli said because of the cost, many communities across the country are getting rid of their recycling programs all together. However, he said in addition to the benefits for the environment, Massachusetts policy mandates that all items deemed recyclable, whether they actually are or not, go into a separate bin separate from trash.