HOUSTON — The cost of recycling is skyrocketing across the country.

Local governments now have two options: Pay up or end their recycling programs.

Cities like West University and Bellaire have seen dramatic shifts in the last several years.

In 2015, the City of West U’s recycling program generated over $10,000. This year, it’s expected to cost $100,000.

Bellaire’s recycling program generated $11,702 dollars in 2015. Last year, its recycling program cost $85,469. 

The increased costs are because of changes on the other side of the world.

China was the world’s largest importer of recyclables. Restrictions there have lessened demand and increased costs at recycling facilities here.

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“It’s costing more for them to process, and they in turn charge that over to the person providing it, which is the city,” said West University City Manager Dave Beach. “Realistically what it will mean is we might have pay more each month to process that recycling.”

While some cities plan to increase monthly recycling costs for residents, other communities in Harris County have halted recycling altogether.

Sugar Land officials have begun efforts to educate the public about the changing marketplace.

“At this point, the city’s recycling program and associated costs have not changed as a result of the recent recycling market. However, an increase in cost may occur in the future," said Doug Adolph, public information officer for the City of Sugar Land. "We will utilize the feedback received through this education process to determine how the city’s recycling program will proceed in the future." 

Michael Leech, Director of Public Works for the City of Bellaire, recommends residents do their part to keep processing costs down.

“Residents can continue to improve the quality of the material they recycle, which keeps costs as low as they can be. This can be done by cleaning cans, bottles, boxes of food or other debris, and by putting only recyclable material in the recycling container for pickup,” said Leech.

Waste Management is holding a recycling education event for Bellaire residents on Aug. 24.

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