Mason City Recycling Center temporarily stops accepting glass and plastic

The private company Mason City Recycling Center stopped accepting glass and plastic items.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 3:58 PM CST
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MASON CITY, Iowa (KTTC) – For more than three months, many Mason City residents have been recycling their waste as normal, but they didn’t realize some of their items weren’t actually getting recycled.

The private company Mason City Recycling Center stopped accepting glass and plastic items after the space had filled up and there was nowhere to take items.

“Normally, when we collect those recyclables, they would go to the recycling center. Without a place to take them go, really, they have to go to the landfill, because there’s no other place to store them or haul to,” Mason City administrator Aaraon Burnett

City leaders didn’t notify residents right away, optimistic they’d be able to find a short-term solution.

“We were collecting recyclables as normal, because we were hopeful we were going to be able to go back and find a new outlet. We’re still hopeful we’ll be able to find a new outlet for it,” Burnett said.

Mason City Recycling Center leaders say the change is a market issue. The price of some recyclables has plummeted in recent months.

“I’m sitting on 5 semi loads of commingled plastic that I can’t even give away,” Mason City Recycling Center president Dean Hess said.

Recycling experts say the majority of plastics can’t even be recycled and end up in a landfill.

“We have always accepted 1-7 plastics. About 30 percent of that, when we would ship it to the users, they take the plastics that they want which are primarily number ones and number twos. The rest gets landfilled,” Hess said.

The recycling center is looking to come up with a plan to recycle plastics again, but it would only be certain types of plastic, like milk jugs and water bottles.

“The markets are better for ones and twos than commingled, so it’s something we’re going to have to work through with these cities that we work with,” Hess said.

While they search for a more long-term solution, Mason City leaders encourage residents to look into what can actually be recycled.

“I think really the important is for people to educate themselves on recycling. Just because you put it in the bin, doesn’t mean it’s magically going to turn into something else,” Burnett said.

Mason City Recycling Center says they’re hoping to start accepting some plastics in early spring. When it comes to glass, Mason City leaders say they’re looking for solutions as well.