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City Council voted to continue recycling and raise the surcharge $0.83

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The Walla Walla City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to steer away from a plan that could have resulted in recyclables picked up at curbside being dumped in the landfill.

As a result of the vote, the recycling surcharge rose 83 cents, to $2.12 per month. The surcharge covers the cost of shipping recyclables out of the area.

If the price to recycle exceeds $136.19 a ton, the Council will revisit the issue.

The Council also voted unanimously to form an ad hoc committee with members to be appointed by the new mayor in 2020, with the purpose to review, study and recommend to the Council recycling methods for the city of Walla Walla.

The most recent price to recycle is $119 per ton with an increasing trend line.

The City Council voted unanimously Nov. 6 to pass an ordinance that allows the city to dump the recyclable materials from Walla Walla residents into the Sudbury Landfill instead of recycling them if the cost to ship recyclables exceeds the cost to dump recyclables into the landfill. This was called the “tipping point plan.”

This ordinance also raised a surcharge on recycling 8 cents to $1.29 per month, on top of the base rate for recycling, which is $5.04 per month.

Council members voted unanimously Dec. 4 to reconsider the tipping point plan after community members spoke in favor of raising the surcharge to continue recycling and not dumping recyclable materials into the landfill.

Mayor Barbara Clark confirmed with Ki Bealey, director of Public Works, that about 75% of the material sent from Walla Walla to the Tacoma sorting facility, Pioneer Recycling Services, in fact is sent to places in the U.S. where it is turned into raw materials and is in fact being recycled.

“Correct,” Bealey said.

The material recovery facility sells that material to different processing plants where they have been shredded and melted down that can be made into something else like fleece coats, new plastic bottles, new cans and similar items, Bealey said.

Bealey gave a brief presentation with pictures of the city’s contaminated recycling that was dropped off at the Walla Walla Recycling Center, which bales and ships the recyclable material to Pioneer Recycling Services, by Basin Disposal.

“When I see the picture of people throwing drywall in ... we talk about education but I guess I don’t look at education I look at desire, I wish people would have a desire to recycle properly,” said Councilman Jerry Cummins.

Walla Walla has an estimated 16-25% contamination rate, based on input from Pioneer Recycling Services that was corroborated through spot checks at the Walla Walla Recycling Center.

“We’ve done some spot checks of Walla Walla’s (recycling contamination) over at Walla Walla Recycling to kind of approximate that too,” Bealey said in a work session earlier this week.

Chloe LeValley can be reached at or 509-526-8326.

Chloe LeValley covers civic engagement in the Walla Walla Valley including city governments, county commissioners and other civic groups. She is a recent graduate from San Francisco State University and came to join our team in October 2019.