Recycling center may stop servicing Leon County and City of Tallahassee

Marpan Recycling currently processes the area's recycled items, but the company is telling both governments the single-stream system is no longer economically viable.

By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 28, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Recycling in Tallahassee and Leon County could be in trouble. Marpan Recycling currently processes the area's recycled items, but the company is telling both governments the single-stream system is no longer economically viable.

This is an issue many communities have faced across the nation, including Bainbridge in Georgia.

Although there are a lot of factors at play, one of the most important is China's decision back in 2018 to stop buying single-stream recycling materials from the U.S.

That decision has put a major economic strain on the market in local communities.

In Marpan's letter to both governments, President and CEO Kim Williams writes, "With the markets continuing to deteriorate, Marpan Recycling does not have the ability to continue absorbing the losses and will be forced to cease operations and terminate our contract due to circumstances beyond our control."

The letter also states: "It's clear the cost of recycling now outpaces the cost of disposal, but I believe our community must remain committed to recycling."

Marpan Recycling has offered to continue its current city and county service for a year. As both governments look at solutions, City Manager Reese Goad says he's confident the Commission will listen to the community about the importance of sustainability.

"Some communities in fact, are going away from recycling entirely. They're simply landfilling their recyclable materials," Goad says. "And I can tell you that the people I've talked to, our neighbors, our
citizens have said, 'We want to recycle. We want you to find a way to recycle.'"

Both the city and the county are considering hiring a consultant to study the economic situation surrounding recycling and options to continue the practice in the community; the municipalities would split that cost.

The local governments are looking into every possible solution.

"That could range from trucking, shipping our recyclables further, that could be a public venture into a recycling processor, or it could even venture into an energy type production using recyclables, we want to be fully informed of all of our long-term options," said Goad.

The issue is on the agenda of upcoming meetings for both governments: the County Commission is slated to discuss it Tuesday night, while the City Commission will take it up Wednesday night.

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