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Doa Ana County, City of Las Cruces officials vote to pay more for recycling

In a special meeting Monday, the board of directors for the South Central Solid Waste Authority voted to pay more for recycling services in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County.

“The citizens of Las Cruces and Doña Ana like the program,” said Patrick Peck, director of the South Central Solid Waste Authority.

Las Cruces curbside recycling customers will now have to pay $6.50 a month for recycling on their utility bills, effective April 1st. It’s a $1.10 increase from the existing rate, which is $5.40 per month.

County residents outside the City of Las Cruces do not pay for curbside recycling, so they shouldn’t notice any increase in their bill, confirmed Ben Rawson, chairman of the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners.

“(Recycling) is really the best thing to do,” said Mayor Ken Miyagishima. “It’s the responsible thing to do.”

The board’s decision comes amid stricter Chinese recycling standards, which now require recycling companies to invest more manpower and time to the sorting and sifting process.

Currently, Las Cruces recyclables must ship to the Friedman processing plant in El Paso. As of Monday, the city of El Paso had not yet voted on the rate increase. Friedman also has recycling operations in Albuquerque and Tucson.

“If Mr. Friedman loses El Paso, one way or another, it’s not viable for us to ship our material to Albuquerque,” Peck said.

The board voted 4 to 1 to pass the increase. Rawson was the only board member to vote no.

“I don’t think that we are far enough along to make the decision to move forward with this rate increase,” Rawson said. “There is so much in flux right now, that I think we need to see a city of El Paso and decide which direction we’re going to go moving foward.”

The SCSWA board is composed of multiple city and county officials, including Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Councilwoman Kasandra Gandara, Councilman Gabe Vasquez, County Manager Fernando Macias, Commissioner Ben Rawson, Commissioner Isabella Solis and Commissioner Ramon Gonzalez.

Recycling officials urge residents to focus on recycling what they call the “Fab Five:” Numbers 1 and 2 plastics, cardboard that is clean and corrugated, cans and printer paper. However, SCSWA will continue to accept all recyclable goods.

SCSWA authority has two contracts with Friedman: One for recycling and one for collection. Peck told the board that if Friedman pulls out of El Paso, his agreements with the city and county are not binding.

“We can get out of both contracts fairly easily,” Peck said.

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