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Due to a degraded market, Kingsport is putting its recycling program on pause starting May 1. In the meantime, residents should continue to put out their recycling cans as normal.

“This is due to a national trend that has drastically impacted Kingsport’s ability to market the majority of the material collected,” said Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds.  “The largest material the city collects, mixed paper, was being sold for $88 per ton. Currently, it costs negative $3.75 per ton, meaning our partner [WestRock Converting Company] has to pay people to take it.”

In December 2019, the BMA voted to extend the current contract with WestRock Converting Company for another two years. However, in March, Kingsport received a separate request from WestRock for an additional $35/ton tipping fee, which results in an additional $115,000 cost to the city’s sanitation budget.

While it might seem sudden, the city of Kingsport is dedicated to continuing a long-term recycling program after the pause.

“With the pause on our recycling program occurring now, it gives our sanitation department time to review other options for the future of the program,” said McReynolds. “It doesn’t make sense at this time for us to spend time and money collecting this material, sending it out of our area and more than likely, having it end up in a landfill anyway.”

One of those options is to look at having the recycling program work done locally. If recycling is able to be done locally, it will help create jobs and boost the economy. It also gives Kingsport the ability to market its own materials, resulting in a better value for taxpayers.

Residents won’t see a disruption in service, however. The city asks everyone to stick to his or her current routine, but just to be aware that the same truck will now pick up both the recycling and garbage cans until the recycling program starts up again.

For more information, please call 423-229-9451.