Mercer recycling

Michael Crews of Princeton works to sort recyclables at the Mercer County recycling center in this 2018 file photo.

BLUEFIELD — The city of Bluefield is suspending its recycling program.

According to City Ambassador Marie Blackwell, after completing a year-long and in-depth review, the city has decided to suspend its recycling program until new technology or global markets change.  

“Like cities around the country, the city of Bluefield Recycling program is no longer cost effective without a market for processed plastics and paper to go,” Blackwell said in a prepared statement last week. “According to data from the EPA, the U.S. solved part of the problem by selling hundreds of thousands of tons of used plastics to China. Then, in 2018, the Chinese government implemented its ‘National Sword’ policy, forbidding the import of 24 types of waste in a campaign against foreign trash. The U.S. suddenly had lost the biggest market for its used plastics, and cities across the U.S. began burning recyclables or sending them to landfills.”

Blackwell said the EPA estimates that less than 10 percent of the plastic produced in the past four decades has been recycled. She said the rest has wound up in landfills or has been incinerated. 

“Closer to home, the city of Bluefield last year spent over $63,000 on its curbside recycling program only to recoup $3,934 in recycling material sales (aluminum and cardboard),” Blackwell said.

If residents would like to continue recycling, Blackwell said Mercer County Recycling, located on Frontage Road in Princeton, is still accepting recycling material. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Blackwell said residents must take their recyclables to the center and will be able to sort them into bins at the recycling center.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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