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Recycling is on hold in Lexington

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 6:12 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Not so long ago, you would find recycling bins out on the curbs in Lexington.

Today, not so much. It’s another victim of COVID.

“We had to eliminate a lot of spending programs and a lot of service programs for the city, of which recycling was one,” explained Lexington City Council member Chuck Smith.

Now, everything goes in the garbage and gets sent to the landfill.

It’s a problem Lexington is not alone in facing, and it’s one that had been brewing since before the arrival of the coronavirus.

“What’s happened is conditions have changed,” said City Manager Jim Halasz.

Things like paper and plastic are increasingly expensive to recycle, and end up in the landfill.

“The only thing that’s profitable for them is aluminum and corrugated paper," Halasz said. "So that’s all they’ll take and pay you for. The rest of it they dump in a landfill somewhere else.”

And with tight budgets, choices have to be made.

“We took about a ten percent reduction in our general fund budget, which is the source of revenues for our recycling and our garbage program," Halasz said. "And when you start to look at the cost, it’s substantially higher for us to recycle than it is to put it in the landfill.”

And here, at least, there is plenty of space. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to recycle in the future.

“We’d all like to cut down on the waste," said Halasz. "There just doesn’t seem to be an economic return on investment for doing that today.”

Smith said, “I wish I had the silver bullet that would fix all this, but it’s a moving target and we’re just doing the best we can.”

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