- City commissioners in Deltona, Florida recently voted unanimously to suspend the city's curbside recycling program, effective Feb. 1. Deltona contracts with Waste Pro for all residential waste and recycling services.
- City staff said removing curbside recycling, but keeping waste hauling service, will save $21 per residential unit each year for a grand total of nearly $715,000 in annual savings. The average cost per ton to process recyclables is currently $77.50, compared to $34 for disposal.
- Deltona is also considering additional changes — including franchise fees and consolidating to a sole hauler for residential and commercial service — to be discussed in March. Commercial service is currently offered by 13 haulers, including many of the industry's largest companies.
Documents accompanying the municipal legislation explain that the unfavorable market conditions are due in large part to China's recyclable material import restrictions and bans. They note that collected materials, especially paper, have been subject to stockpiling that can create a fire hazard — and then end up being disposed anyway. Public safety, the documents observe, can be elevated by eliminating stockpiles and directly transporting recyclable materials to landfills.
Like other cities feeling the financial pinch from unfavorable markets, Deltona previously received rebates for its recyclable materials; however, the documents show it hasn't received such payments since 2015 and has instead been paying Waste Pro under current market conditions. City leaders believe the $715,000 saved each year through a service suspension will prove more favorable for the community than attempting to wait out the market downturn.
Other cities of a similar size are facing comparable struggles around handling recycling in this uncertain financial environment. Some have chosen to temporarily suspend curbside service with the stated intent to re-launch — the Toledo suburb of Oregon, Ohio, for instance, has issued a two-year suspension while leaders work on a public education campaign to encourage better curbside recycling practices. However, other municipalities lacking the budgetary margin or resources to ride out the storm have resorted to canceling curbside service altogether.
Although Deltona's leaders have labeled the curbside change a "suspension" rather than a "cancellation," the legislation is vague in its definition of the suspension's parameters, holding that the change would remain in effect "until recycling markets improve." But others in the recycling industry have admitted that markets might not bounce back to previous levels, raising the possibility of indefinite curbside suspension.
Home to more than 90,000 residents, Deltona is the most populous city in Florida's Volusia County. Its curbside suspension and potential changes to waste hauling could set a precedent for other nearby municipalities, some of which have considered similar moves.