Newton, Harvey County alter recycling programs

The City of Newton, after contractual changes between Waste Connections and Harvey County, has decided that citywide recycling is no longer mandatory. Residents can now choose whether they want to opt-in or out of recycling. Letters were sent to Newton residents last week informing them of the change. Residents were asked to return a detached portion of the letter to the Newton City Hall Billing Office by Monday, Feb. 10 indicating whether or not they plan to continue recycling.
The city commission voted 4-1 to create a voluntary recycling program, and increase sanitation fees slightly to maintain the program. The commission chose to create the voluntary program after Harvey County ended mandatory recycling and began rejecting loads, as well as fining cities with rejected loads because of contamination in the recycling stream.
“I’m proud that we were able to keep recycling an option and to keep the cost increase low,” city commissioner Rich Stinnett said. “Each residence with city trash service will only see their bill increase by $1.19 per month.”
Those who choose to recycle must follow the new requirements in the way Harvey County’s waste contractor handles recyclables. Residents must follow recycling rules and only put acceptable items in their recycling cart or they could receive violation notices, fines, or could even be asked to leave the recycling program. Non-recyclable items contaminate the load causing the city to be forced to dump the whole load in the trash and pay fines of up to $350 per load, per month. Items such as candy and snack wrappers, waxed beverage cartons, styrofoam cups and containers and plastic toys are no longer to be recycled.
“Recycling reduces the amount of solid waste being sent to landfills,” Stinnett said. “If we were to lose a recycling option, the result would be an increased amount of solid waste going to the landfill. In the near future, there would likely be a rate increase due to the larger volume of solid waste entering the landfill and at some point, there could even be the need to expand landfills.”
According to Chris Schaeffer, the Director of Facilities and Maintenance for USD 373, and Matt Morford, the Director of Business Services for USD 373, the district plans to make no changes and plans to continue to recycle. At the Jan. 29, 2020 city commission meeting it was made aware that the city staff had mailed 6,800 letters about recycling changes. Of these 6,800 letters, 400 responses have been received and 191 of that 400 want to continue recycling and 199 do not want to continue. Sophomore Kaitlyn Mcmullin said protecting wildlife contributes to her support for recycling.
“I believe that recycling is needed because plastic harms so many animals,” McMullin said. “Not just in the ocean but everywhere, animals are having their environments harmed by plastic and trash in general. Animals can eat plastic thinking it’s food and just make their living conditions worse.”