St. Augustine making recycling changes after costs double

To keep rates from rising for residents, city is getting creative

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – St. Augustine residents will soon be seeing changes to the city's recycling program after costs more than doubled last year, the city said.

Right now, residents pay just over $17 a month for the service, and the city is getting creative to keep those rates from rising.

The city took over the recycling program in 2015, and the annual tonnage has more than doubled since. At least 225 tons of recyclables are hauled off from green bins across the city of St. Augustine every month.

Late last year, recycling rates with a local facility more than doubled from $38 a ton to $93 a ton.

Public Works Deputy Director Todd Grant said the city anticipated an increase but never expected it to be so high.

“China instituted a half a percent contamination policy, this was almost back in the summertime so it has been on the horizon for a while,” Grant said. “They consume a majority, if not all, of our recyclables and so when they stopped taking them, it created this glut and kind of a panic as far as what to do.”

Instead of dipping into reserve funds or raising rates for residents, the city is changing things up to reduce costs. All recyclables are now trucked to a more-affordable Flagler County facility, saving the city $15,000-$20,000 a month. 

Grant said the next phase involves re-educating the public to reuse glass and reduce the amount of glass used.

“If we can change that behavior as far as using glass or reducing the amount of glass that’s used, it will be a big help,” Grant said.

He said glass is one of the heaviest and least recyclable items out there.

The city said it expects to launch a campaign to reduce and reuse glass in the next few months.

And eventually, the stickers on the bins will look a bit different, showing only paper, plastic and aluminum. 

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