COLLEGE PLACE — Due to markets for recyclable materials becoming unsustainable, the City Council Tuesday voted to suspend its recycling program.

After discussing the issue, Councilman Loren Peterson made the motion “to suspend curbside recycling until such time as the market prices make the cost of recycling affordable.”

“I’ll make my saddest second ever,” said Councilman Michael Cleveland. “This is really disappointing but this is the way it is ...”

The motion passed 5-1 with Council members Melodie Selby, Heather Schermann and Larry Dickerson joining Peterson and Cleveland in voting “yes.” Jerry Bobbitt voted “no”. Marge Nyhagen was absent.

City Public Works Director Paul Hartwig said the curbside pickup would probably not end until the middle of May to allow time for the city and Basin Disposal, which contracts with the city for waste pickup, to advertise the program’s suspension.

The Council’s action follows earlier discussions in workshops on the recycling situation which has affected not just College Place, but cities throughout the United States and other countries as well.

At the heart of the issue is a ban by China on the import of many recycled materials, including unsorted paper and the low-grade polyethylene terephthalate used in plastic bottles. The action has forced cities and private companies to stop collecting recyclable goods because it is no longer profitable.

“This is a very, very sad day,” said Mayor Harvey Crowder. “And not of our doing per se.”

In a follow-on action, Selby made a motion to add that cities should look for ways to improve re-use and promote opportunities for recycling in Washington state. The motion passed unanimously.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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