The future of the city’s recycling services was discussed in considerable detail at Monday night’s meeting of the Chenoa City Council. While no action was taken at the meeting, Mayor Chris Wilder and the commissioners weighed several options, including the end of recycling altogether.
    The topic had its origins in a meeting that Wilder and Parks, Public Health and Safety Commissioner John Strike sat in on with a representative with Republic Services, the waste collection company the City of Chenoa is currently contracted with for pickup and recycling. The mayor recalled that the representative said Republic “was having a hard time with recycling” due to China’s policy.
    Last year, China announced it was refusing to import a lengthy list of foreign wastes, including papers and plastics, and the list of banned imports became even longer this year. At one point, China took in approximately 45 percent of the world’s plastic wastes. Given what’s become a calamitous recycling situation globally, Wilder said that Republic was requesting aid — of a financial kind.
    “China was the world’s largest location to send all recyclable materials to,” Wilder said. “Now they’ve decided they’re going to clean up their act, and they’re no longer taking recyclable materials. It’s becoming harder and harder for any recycler to take care of these things. Republic is one of them, and they’re going around to all of their accounts and asking for help in this cost to recycle things, and they want to train people on how to correctly recycle.”
    The mayor noted that the Republic representative thoroughly explained how recycling on a practical level is far more difficult than residents choosing to put plastic bottles and cardboard food containers in a recycling bin, which is why the recycler was needing a greater financial contribution to handle the efforts.
    “Ultimately, they’re asking for roughly 70 cents per customer, per month, in addition to our current rate,” Wilder said. “They said that’s a 12-month rate and at the end of 12 months, if their rates go down, ours go down. But if their rates go up, ours go up.”
    The mayor said that he wanted commissioners to talk to people around town to better inform the city’s decision, and listed some possibilities the city could consider.
    “We’re going to have a few options,” he said. “One is that we eliminate recycling completely and just send everything to the dump. Another option, according to (the Republic representative), was to continue to allow them to pick it up, and they would take that back to the dump and, basically, we say we don’t care where it goes; we would end up paying the tonnage on just that recycling. Another option is that we accept this 70 cents and add it.”
    The mayor said that a fourth option existed in which the city could try and force the recycler to honor the current contract; however, the mayor noted that the Republic representative claimed that the company could force Chenoa to pay the additional fees if it wanted to continue recycling. Wilder stated that City Attorney Steve Mann would look into the matter, adding that he understood it could become a controversial topic.
    “Personally, I don’t mind paying the extra 70 cents myself, but I know there are a lot of people who would object to that,” the mayor said. “It’s a political nightmare no matter which way you go, because you’re going to have people who want you to recycle and you’ll have people who could really care less.”
    In items on the city’s action agenda, the council opted to waive off $770 in current dumpster bills accrued by Juan Cerda in his capacity as operator of Chenoa Fitness Center in lieu of being able to secure TIF funding for the business owner, and opted to approve a $467 bid to commission Diaz Sign Art to replace a city sign on the east side of Chenoa.