Chamber News

January 06, 2020 Likes Comments

Mandatory recycling rules could have unintended consequences

The Newton City Council is expected to consider a proposal that would make recycling mandatory for all businesses and nonprofits, with the pickups cost born by the building owners or tenants.

Curbside pickup is available to Newton residents at no charge. But commercial and nonprofits properties must contract with private carriers for all trash disposal. While many large employers participate in recycling programs, the new proposal would require that all private haulers used by businesses and nonprofits include recycling pick up.

In a letter to the council, Chamber President Greg Reibman acknowledged that the proposal had “good intentions” but urged the council “to explore potential unintended consequences before proceeding.”

The proposal comes at a time when the recycling market has bottomed out, driven in part by China’s recent decision to stop recycling plastic and other materials from overseas and an increase in the contamination of recyclables because of collections that mix different materials.

“We need to understand the financial impact this regulation would have on our small business owners and nonprofits who would inevitably be asked by their private haulers to absorb this added expense, especially at a time when the resale market for most recyclables has dropped,” Reibman wrote.

“We also must understand the logistics of this mandate,” he added. “This regulation would inevitably require small businesses and nonprofits to have a second dumpster. Creating space for a second dumpster could be a challenge for some small companies, potentially resulting in the loss of a parking space, landscaping or other accommodations.”

Reibman also wondered if, at time when traffic congestion, carbon emissions and road conditions are on everyone’s mind, we should at least weigh the environmental benefits of added recycling against the negative impact of adding a second fleet of private disposal trucks to our streets.


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