Arizona cities struggle to maintain recycling programs because of high costs

Posted April 21, 2023 | UPDATED on November 22, 2023

AZ Central, Environment | Clara Migoya

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…Many communities in Arizona lack recycling services. A big factor in the decline of programs was that most recycled waste was being purchased by China, and when the country banned imports on foreign recyclable waste in 2018, the prices dropped. It affected recycling profitability throughout the country.

…The Arizona Legislature has not appropriated funds for the recycling program in over a decade.

Rajesh Buch, a senior global futures scientist at Arizona State University, and Richard Rushforth, an assistant research professor at Northern Arizona University, are leading a statewide assessment to find solutions to municipal recycling in Arizona.

The team will estimate the amount and type of recyclable waste dumped throughout Arizona, the economic impact that recycling could have, and the cost-benefit of operating recycling programs depending on communities’ size and finances. The data will be available to the public online and allow users to get information on cities’ recycling policies all in one site.

…Buch and Rushforth are estimating the amount of recyclable waste produced in Arizona’s 15 counties.

…The research will also provide a much needed information platform for the general public. ADEQ has a list of recycling programs by city, but it’s not complete or updated. There is no requirement on either recycling or on data collection in Arizona.

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