Albuquerque Solid Waste seeing record recycling costs; considers rate increase

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque has seen record recycling costs over the last few years and because of that you may see an increase in your bill. Solid Waste officials say the coronavirus pandemic is partly to blame for the rise in costs. Another reason could also be because China changed its importing guidelines and the city’s back end cost for recycling went from $350,000 in 2017 to $3.5 million this year.

Officials say the coronavirus pandemic has created more challenges; since people are spending more time at home, they’ve seen an increase in illegal dumping and an increase in large item pickups. They’ve also seen a decrease in commercial pickups, which is a critical source of revenue for the department.

“Because of the commercial decreases we’ve decreased by about 550 pickups since COVID-19 started which equates to about a $1.6 million decrease in revenue. Now that decrease in revenue is something we have to look for, budget for in the future,” says Solid Waste Director Matthew Whelan.

The department says they do have $4 million in reserves to make bond payments, but they say a rate increase for residents is something they are considering. “We’re looking and evaluating those options as we go through the budget process. We’ll be making some recommendations on that particular issue whether it happens or not or whether we’re able to absorb it by being even more efficient. That’s a part of the challenge to my director and we’re working through that,” says Lawrence Rael, Chief Operations Officer, City of Albuquerque.

The last time the department increased garbage and recycling rates was in 2011. Solid Waste officials say they still have plans to move forward with building a new waste facility. They say they’re planning a groundbreaking in the near future.

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