Fayette County

UK and local governments served by Rumpke will still recycle paper. Find out which ones

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Recycling program manager Angela Poe explains what can and can not go into recycling bins in Lexington, Kentucky.
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Recycling program manager Angela Poe explains what can and can not go into recycling bins in Lexington, Kentucky.

The University of Kentucky and cities and counties in Central Kentucky will still be able to recycle paper products.

Officials with Rumpke, a private company that has contracts with several area cities and counties to pick up garbage and recycling, said it is trying to find a buyer for recycled paper and urged the governments it serves to continue to put paper in recycling bins. Those local governments include: Montgomery County, Mt. Sterling, Midway, Stamping Ground, Woodford County and Paris.

In addition, Rumpke has some customers in parts of Scott, Fayette and Clark counties.

“Rumpke is working on a plan to ensure our customer’s paper continues to be recycled, which includes transporting the material to another facility while the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government recycling center’s paper suspension is in place,” said Molly Yeager Broadwater, a spokeswoman for Rumpke. “We hope to have the details worked out early next week.”

In the meantime, Broadwater said Rumpke customers should continue to put paper in recycling bins. “We don’t want to alter our customers good recycling efforts,” she said.

Lexington announced Tuesday it was suspending paper recycling effective immediately due to a lack of buyers for recycled paper goods. Lexington’s recycling center serves 17 cities, counties and schools, including the University of Kentucky.

UK announced Friday it would also continue to recycle paper on its campus. UK said it has found a recycling center outside of Cincinnati that will take all of its recycling. The release from the university said if the city resumes recycling paper, UK will resume sending its recycling to Lexington.

“UK’s recently adopted Sustainability Strategic Plan established a target of diverting 50 percent of our waste stream from the landfill by 2022,” UK Sustainability Coordinator Shane Tedder said. “Paper and paper products are a significant part of this stream so this move allows us to maintain momentum toward our diversion goal and prevents the need for large scale changes to our recycling infrastructure.”

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said Lexington did not give other cities or counties notice that it was suspending paper recycling prior to the Tuesday announcement. Vandegrift said Rumpke has told him Midway residents should continue to put paper in recycling bins.

“Their reasoning is that it is likely to be temporary,” Vandegrfit said of Rumpke’s decision.

Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for Lexington, said the city decided to alert the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council and Lexington residents. Environmental Quality and Public Works Commissioner Nancy Albright announced the decision at a Tuesday council meeting.

“After the council meeting on Tuesday afternoon, we communicated with the private haulers. We understand that this change won’t happen overnight,” Straub said.

The city says paper products put in the recycling bins will be separated at the recycling center but will then be sent to the landfill. City officials are urging people to put paper goods directly into garbage bins. It costs the city and taxpayers more money to process the paper through the recycling center.

The city has had to give recycled paper away after a global upheaval in the recycled goods market that started when China upped its standards on what type of recycled paper it would take. As much as 40 percent of the United States’ recycled paper went to China, according to some estimates.

The city said three, new paper mills are expected to come on line in late 2019 and hope paper recycling will resume when it finds a new buyer.

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