KURE BEACH, NC (WECT) - Though located a world away, China's ban on certain waste imports is having a significant impact on a local beach town's recycling fees.
The town of Kure Beach had planned for a 13-cent increase in the recycling rate, from $4.88 to $5.01 monthly, in its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. However, a quote recently received from the town's recycling vendor, Waste Management, said there would be a 51.6 percent increase in the cost of recycling service.
Kure Beach Town Council approved the budget at its meeting on Tuesday night, bringing the town's recycling costs to $65,500 per year.
That translates into a rate of $7.40 per month, an increase of $2.52 from the current monthly rate. For context, there was an 86-cent increase over the previous seven-year period, according to a memo from the town's finance officer, Arlen Copenhaver, to council members.
The increase is "primarily due to the impact of China reducing the amount of recyclable material that they are allowing to be brought into their country," Copenhaver said in the memo.
The new budget also allows Waste Management to revise the fees it charges on a monthly basis to offset any increases received from the vendor used for the recyclable material, meaning Kure Beach could need to revise the monthly fee charged to property owners above the proposed $7.40 per month.
Last year, China — which has historically been the world's largest importer of waste, according to reports — announced it was banning 24 types of waste starting in January 2018, leaving waste exporters scrambling to find alternatives.
The trickle-down effect that decision has had on Kure Beach left the town with three options: remain with Waste Management and accept its proposal, explore other vendors for recycling services or stop the recycling service completely.
Based on a memo from the town's clerk to council members, it appears the town will likely remain with Waste Management as the other established vendor has also been impacted by China's decision and the third option is new to the recycling field.
"Council needs to decide if recycling service is a valuable service, and if so, whether to pass the entire cost directly to the citizens or not," Town Clerk Nancy Avery wrote. "Stopping recycling service only puts an additional cost and burden on the town because garbage will most likely double.
"I suggest we ride this out with Waste Management for at least six months and see if the market stabilizes before making a major decision," Avery continued.