Fort Mill is changing what the town will take for recycling, and many folks aren’t happy about it.
The change in Fort Mill means no more glass. Only #1 and #2 marked plastics in jug, jar or bottle shapes will be taken. All recyclables have to be rinsed clean.
Plastic bags, greasy pizza boxes —anything with food residue — Stryofoam and other materials won’t be allowed.
The town posted the change on its Facebook page Tuesday. Feedback, largely, wasn’t positive.
Many people asked if they’d get a discount or could discontinue town trash and recycling services if they’d have to haul glass and other materials themselves to a York County convenience center where they’re still accepted as sorted recycling. At least one person noted the rinsing seemed odd, given the town just asked its residents to begin water conservation.
Others noted how many fewer items they believe will be recycled due to the change.
“I will continue to recycle,” wrote Brittany Coleman in response to the town post, “but I know a lot of people that won’t bother with these type of regulations.”
According to the town post, it’s important residents adapt to the changes and not throw out unaccepted items. Prohibited or dirty items in the recycling could cause the entire truckload to be rejected at the recycling site. It then would go straight to a landfill, which would cost the town more.
Changes in what’s accepted relate to what the York County Material Recovery Facility accepts. It’s based both on what the facility can process and markets for recyclable materials.
“There have been no recent changes to the material accepted as mixed recycling at the York County (site),” said Trish Startup, county spokesperson.
The town put out additional information Wednesday in a statement. The biggest anticipated change is glass.
“The biggest change for customers is the removal of glass, which is due to the fact that during the collection and transportation process, glass breaks down and begins to damage and wear down machinery,” reads the town statement. “As such, it cannot be co-mingled with other recyclables anymore.”
The statement also addresses questions of whether residents can opt out of garbage and recycling services.
“The town provides sanitation services to all of our single-family developments, which is a requirement per the town’s adopted code of ordinances,” it reads. “In order to provide those services to our residents at the lowest cost possible, homeowners are required to participate in the program and share in these costs.”
Fort Mill isn’t the first community to deal with recycling changes. A year ago the Herald reported communities like Rock Hill and others in the area had some of their recycling sent to landfills. Companies that accept the material saw drastic changes in the market for it. Companies stopped taking glass and and other item, particularly unsorted since the markets for some sorted material was better.
Tega Cay went through changes similar to what Fort Mill is doing now. Residents there also were upset with many of the new restrictions. Eventually Tega Cay and York County reached an agreement where many but not all of the items city residents were used to recycling, could be accepted again.
York County Council members mentioned Fort Mill, in discussing that spring agreement with Tega Cay, as a possible partner for recycling. County leaders said then they are willing to work with towns and cities, as long as those municipalities pay their fair share of the cost to recycle.
Chairman Michael Johnson, who represents parts of Fort Mill and Tega Cay, said then no one is making money on recycling anymore.
“That ship sailed,” Johnson said. “This is a money-loser. We’re losing money on it. Tega Cay’s losing money on it. Rock Hill, probably losing money on it. I don’t know exactly. I know Fort Mill is losing money.”
Some comments on the town post recognized the role of changing markets for recycling. Some encouraged other residents not to dwell solely on the negatives, but to recycle what they still can.
“We have to do our part and support our cities and county,” wrote Kelly Munsee.
What the county takes
Materials accepted at the York County site include:
▪ Mixed paper, chipboard, cardboard, magazines and office paper. No food residue or wax coated paper.
▪ Steel cans, aluminum cans, pans and foil. No food residue or propane tanks.
▪ Plastic bottles, jugs and jars. No non-bottle plastic or Styrofoam.
▪ Materials the county site won’t take include:
▪ Plastic – bags, bagged materials, clam shell containers, drinking cups, buckets, toys, margarine/butter tubs, yogurt containers.
▪ Glass; including food and beverage bottles jugs and jars, mirrors, windows, light bulbs, porcelain and cookware.
▪ Shredded paper
▪ Hoses, cords or wires
▪ Oil bottles
▪ Plastic film or flexible packaging
▪ Yard waste
▪ Construction waste
▪ Medical supplies
▪ Food waste and liquids