While Fenton’s refuse hauler, Meridian Waste, stands firm about charging double the contracted price for single-stream curbside recycling as of Jan. 1, aldermen scheduled another discussion and year-end vote about the matter at their Dec. 20 board meeting.
Derrick Standley, Meridian’s government affairs manager, said at the city’s Dec. 11 board meeting the company could honor Fenton’s desire to continue single-stream recycling service, but “could not guarantee” the items will be recycled, given the turmoil and cost-prohibitive prices occurring in current U.S. and global recycling markets.
Fenton pays Meridian from the municipal budget, rather than its 1,500 residential households paying directly to the vendor. Fenton’s overall cost is $11.63 per household per month. The city’s current contracted price just for recycling services from Meridian is $3.28 per household per month.
Standley said Meridian will charge an extra $3 per household each month for single-stream curbside services in 2019, costing Fenton about $4,500 more per month for single-stream service or $54,000 extra for 2019 should the month-to-month agreement extend the entire year.
This fall, Fenton officials were offered new dual-stream options by Meridian within the original, contracted fee, but those changes spurred concerns from residents.
Even with paying more for single-stream recycling, Fenton’s projected, new average cost of $14.63 per household per month appears less than rates of some surrounding municipalities. Fenton City Administrator Lisa Peck said her research indicated other municipalities’ rates are $18.65 to $25 per household per month for overall waste collection services.
Peck said she also quizzed other city representatives about their fresh conversions to dual-stream recycling, and counterparts said the process was not seamless. “They said residents complained, and the city central collection containers became dump sites,” she added.
Fenton’s contract with Meridian extends through May 2020.
The City of Parks is not alone in sorting through this dilemma – recent changes to the St. Louis/St. Charles recycling pipeline prompted ripple effects across most all local municipalities.
Meridian made the corporate decision to drop single-stream curbside recycling as part of its standard service, effective Jan. 1, after associated Earth City-based Resource Management Companies’ recycling processors announced they would cease accepting recyclables after Oct. 31.
“It’s disappointing to shift gears in the middle of a contract when we should be able to be comfortable with the lifespan of a contract. And it’s an inconvenience and imposition to drag paper and cardboard somewhere else. But this is a trend happening globally, and at some time, we may have to bite the bullet and do it,” said Alderman Chris Clauss.
Meridian’s Standley said that after China’s recycle ban this year, countries that then accepted recyclables now are open-burning, dumping or throwing 75 percent of recycled materials into oceans.
He said getting the populace to understand that changes are necessary will take time.
“Residents may see it as a reduction in services, but under current circumstances, we’re having to provide more service. We don’t blame you at all for wanting curbside single-stream, but our recycling costs are going up (by as much as five times) and we have to pass along a portion of that increase,” said Standley.