Trash hauler raises rates to accommodate for recycling costs

A major trash hauler that serves Vermonters has issued a statement to customers saying it will have to raise rates in order to accommodate for the rising cost of recycling.

According to a letter sent from Myers Container Service Corp., legislation coming out of Montpelier is putting pressure on the bottom line.

“As you may have read in the news, the recycling market overseas continues to change a great deal. The value of American recyclables in China just aren’t worth as much as they once were. Current solid waste markets are changing, and disposal costs are on the rise,” the company states.

It continues that there has been an increase in the cost for disposal of both trash and recycling, and “many other factors have forced us to raise our rates.” It adds that regulations in Montpelier (Act 148) and in Washington D.C. (the Federal Farm Bill) put pressure on the haulers.

ALL FOR NOTHING?: The cost of recycling continues to go up and that cost is getting passed onto consumers via the trash haulers.

Myers also notes that all the recyclables that it collects funnel through Chittenden County. The Chittenden County Solid Waste District (CSWD) has issued its own letter stating that costs are rising.

“The increase is due to the continued decline in the markets for recycling commodities, resulting in the insufficient revenue to offset the costs to operate and manage the MRF [materials recovery facility] program,” it states.

Michele Morris, director of outreach and communication for Chittenden County Solid Waste District, told True North their cost for processing a ton of recyclables is rising from $65 to $80.

Regarding developments in China, she said the nation, which had previously been taking up to 80 percent of the world’s recyclables, has “effectively shut down all incoming scrap material into their country. … The impact is you flood the rest of the markets.”

The good news, Morris says, is that now the U.S. is reinvigorating its own infrastructure to process recycling. For example, the company Nine Dragons Paper is now inquiring to U.S. companies in Maine and the midwest to process recyclables and send those byproducts to China to be turned into new cardboard and paper.

Regarding Act 148, the state’s 2012 recycling law, she said since 2015 it has been illegal to put recyclables into a Vermont landfill — so that should not have anything to do with current cost increases.

She said one thing driving costs is that transportation costs are rising sharply, largely due to Vermont’s tight labor market.

“They can’t get a CDL driver for what they used to,” Morris said.

She noted that stories in the media about large masses of plastics floating in the ocean have more to do with the policies of eastern nations than those in the west. She said estimates are 80 percent of those plastics are from still-developing Asian countries where landfills remain uncommon.

“They don’t have adequate infrastructure for solid waste management,” she said.

Josh Kelly, who works for the Department of Environmental Conservation in the Solid Waste Program, noted that recycling materials are commodities not unlike those in the energy sector.

“I would compare this to gas prices in a way because gas is a global commodity and we’re all familiar with gas prices going up and going down,” he said. “Steel, aluminum, plastic, milk jugs, paper, cardboard, glass, these are all commodities in the recycling stream.”

Kelly continued that just as consumers should not blame local gas stations for rising costs, trash haulers cannot control commodity prices.

On the China factor, he said even though most of Vermont’s recyclables never made it to China, the country’s crackdown on its intake of these materials nonetheless reverberated into the Vermont market.

Kelly says there are some materials the trash haulers actually lose money on.

“Some they take a loss on such as glass, and some they make a profit on, like aluminum,” he said. “And they add up all those profits and losses to figure out how much money they make at the end of the day so they can pay their staff and their overhead.”

Regarding Act 148, he noted that starting July 1 this year food scraps will also be banned from going into landfills.

Morris concluded that ultimately the waste society puts out depends on consumer habits.

“Stuff gets made because we want it and we buy it, and then we make the choice of how to dispose of it,” she said. “So organizations like the Chittenden Solid Waste District and companies that are waste haulers and landfill owners and wastewater treatment plant operators, we don’t make those decisions.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

10 thoughts on “Trash hauler raises rates to accommodate for recycling costs

  1. “Pressure from Montpelier is forcing us to raise rates.” This applies to land lords who are forced to raise rents because of higher real estate taxes plus how many more businesses are impacted? At some point, if there is anyone left, Vermonters need to clear out the do gooders and pollyannas in Montpereplace and replace them with solid, down to earth, clear, common sense thinkers or things will continue to spiral down hill. I’ve owned property and lived in Vermont over fifty years and since the Dems took over Montpelier, I do not recall one legislative session when there was any thought given to reducing expenses. It’s always spend, spend, spend.

  2. So very funny. VT might be able to process a good bit of recycled material into other things. but GUESS WHAT? To melt down metal cans, plastic & glass and such takes what….ENERGY! You need oil or gas. What does VT hate? Oil and gas. All the Kumbaya types will never ALLOW clean and efficient gas pipleines to be built and come to a recycle center to thus process the stuff to a re usuable material…..any of the paper, glass or metal! China will not take it anymore and they will not allow it in lour andfill. It ALL TAKES ENERGY… WASTED! HOW MUCH energy and C02 will be used to melt down and process all this mandatory glass, paper, metal and paper…material. A TON OF ENERGY!. What total dopes these enviro’s are….Kumbaya 🙂

  3. What is troubling is Myers raised their price, sending us the next bill telling us we owed them money (price increase) for the last pick-up. We asked why we were not notified of the increase and the reason for it…. the answer from the girl on the phone was…. I just answer the phone. A very poor business process. If this is also for increased fuel costs and lack of CDL’s, then the cost of recycle is no different than the cost of picking up trash, so why blame the recycling increases specifically. How come the other haulers didn’t raise their rates?

    • Other haulers have raised their prices. Stop voting in do good “green” politicians that do not understand the true environmental and fiscal consequences of their legislation.

  4. It should be pointed out that meat and bones will still be allowed after July 1st for households.

  5. So what is wrong with developing our own recycle market in place of relying on China or other foreign countries to buy our discards? There are so many uses, applications and methods available for at least 80 to 90% of all materials. Plastics are made from Crude Oil and should be returned to usable fuels. Paper products back to paper. Glass melted back to glass. Metals back to metals. Come on people, this is just common sense ecology which is profitable if you don’t have to ship it 6,000 miles.

    • There would be bureaucratic and “Advocacy” expensive opposition to any attempt to do anything with local or national recycling. Is it pretty? Is it nice? Doesn’t it use too much fuel/energy?!

    • All of what you propose requires energy and creates other pollutants. Are you aware that with the regulatory nature of Vermont, that is unlikely.

  6. This is a cost we can live with unlike carbontaxes which do nothing but
    contribute to the high cost of living in Vert Mount..

    • Send the cost increase to your local rep in Vert Mont-pelier. people need to share. I expect you’ll see more trashing along isolated roadways. ( “Whoops, it fell off my vehicle”.)

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