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After 'skyrocketing' costs, Onondaga County residents may have to start paying for recycling

OCRRA Facebook

Onondaga County residents may have to start paying for recycling. Officials at the facility that oversees waste and recycling for the county, say costs have skyrocketed in recent years. 

From 2000-2017, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, or OCRRA, broke even on recycling. Some years they would lose money, some years they would make it back. But Executive Director Dereth Glance said in 2018, that all changed when China, which takes in half of the world’s recyclables, abruptly stopped.

“And we all know from basic Economics 101, when you have the oversupply and you have lost your demand, your prices just tumble,” Glance said.

Costs rose 5%, then 12%. Now, OCRRA is expected to spend 16% of its budget, or $2.5 million, to process recyclables like the bottles, cans, paper and cardboard that go in blue bins. 

“When you go from zero to $2.5 million, you got to make a change,” Glance said.

The agency is asking the community to pay half the cost, a $34-per-ton fee for haulers, which could equate to $2 a month for the average household. That's something that's never been done before. OCRRA’s board of directors will vote on the new fee, plus an increase on the garbage tip fee, on Wednesday.

“We are very serious about making sure things are as affordable and fair as possible across the board, and have taken every step to be as efficient as possible before we pass along any fees,” Glance said.

The new recycling fee, she said, will allow the agency to continue to improve the system for years to come.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.