Lexington’s home paper recycling program to return in March

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Paper recycling from home carts will resume in Lexington in March, city leaders announced Monday and the city has a machinery upgrade to thank.

“It has been a long journey, complicated by the pandemic, to restore this service. Now, we’re moving forward,” Mayor Linda Gorton said.

Thanks to an upcoming $4.2 million refresh of the Recycling Center’s machinery, the center will once again be able to recycle “clean” paper, such as office and printing papers, magazines and newspapers, collected curbside from the blue carts provided through the City’s Waste Management service.

The new equipment and upgrades to existing devices, which the Mayor included in the current budget, will allow the center to:

  • Sort paper collected curbside more effectively, and produce better quality paper;
  • Increase the capacity of the center to produce higher quality recyclables to sell.

“Both of those outcomes allow us to restore curbside paper collection and improve the overall performance of the facility,” said Tracey Thurman, Director of Waste Management. “The changes will also improve how we sort glass, and this will reduce the damage glass breakage does to our equipment.”

Equipment changes will temporarily shut down the Recycle Center for 13 weeks, starting in December.

The city hopes to continue recycling during the shut down by hiring a private contractor to haul, process and market the recyclable material that is currently being processed at the Recycle Center.

The interim services will be needed from December 13, 2021, to March 14, 2022.

The machinery built for Lexington will start to arrive on site in January 2022.

“The recycling industry is in a time of change,” Thurman says. “We are aligning our sorting and processing systems to keep up with industry changes. Recyclables come into the Recycle Center in a single stream, all commingled together. The new equipment and modifications will create a better-designed processing system to sort the recyclables, allowing us to get them to end markets to support jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.”

The city is evaluating whether to keep the yellow bins in operation after curbside recycling resumes. Residents have been invited to use the bins, scattered around the community, to recycle “clean” paper while curbside service for paper has been suspended.

The yellow bins have been an overwhelming success.

Since January 2021, Lexington has collected more than 246 tons of “clean” paper from the yellow bins, which is more than 12 semi-tractor trailer loads.

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