- A study in Charleston, West Virginia found that less than 20% of residents are participating in the city's curbside recycling program. More than 18,000 people were surveyed over a five-week period.
- The capital city offers single-stream recycling collection for free, but is losing thousands of dollars on the program every year.
- Some city officials have proposed suspending recycling collection until commodity prices turn around, while others say it may be time to start charging residents a small fee for the service.
State law has required any municipality with more than 10,000 people to offer curbside recycling since 1993. The local Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority has talked about opening a local material recovery facility, which might help reduce some of the costs, but that plan doesn't appear to be moving forward. This leaves Charleston on its own to deal with a question that many communities are currently facing around the country.
"... are we going to be a community that recycles — and pay for the privilege because of some larger benefit to the planet — or not?" City Manager David Molgaard said to the Gazette-Mail.
The neighboring Cabell County Solid Waste Authority also considered suspending recycling collection last year over increased costs, though ultimately spared the program after securing new funding. State grants are available for solid waste programs such as recycling, but haven't been enough to fully address the needs of larger cities such as Charleston. Earlier this year, West Virginia reversed a landfill ban on e-waste due to the financial burden it was placing on counties such as Kanawha.