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Phoenix, the state capital and Pinal County’s much larger neighbor to the north, is struggling with what to do about its recycling program, months after Casa Grande faced up to the same issue and decided to end curbside pickup after years of providing the service. Actually, cities and other jurisdictions all across the country have the same problem after a period of heavy reliance on China to accept many materials, something that has been curtailed due to a policy change in the People’s Republic.

As Casa Grande considered doing but rejected, Phoenix may charge residents more in order to support its recycling program. The rate for refuse there has been $26.80 a month for 10 years, which includes recycling and also bulk trash pickup four times a year. Casa Grande, meanwhile, charges $23.15, more than $3 less, without recycling but with more frequent bulk pickup.

Phoenix is considering a rate hike of more than $6 to continue recycling pickup. Alternatives include less frequent than weekly recycling pickup or none at all. Some of the alternatives involve personnel cuts.

As we said earlier this year, the Casa Grande City Council was clearly reluctant to end the city’s curbside recycling pickup, which had been the first in the state. Residents accustomed and dedicated to recycling have struggled to find alternatives. Some exist in private industry, especially for aluminum cans and plastic drink bottles.

Perhaps an over-reliance on China affected the market in the United States. A stronger domestic recycling industry is needed. That would be aided by more recycling programs being continued.

However, Casa Grande, Phoenix and other cities have been faced with escalating costs and the fact that some items intended for recycling would find their way to landfills anyway. This issue will continue to be a difficult one in the future. It is, however, one that might be solved by clever entrepreneurship.

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