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Lexington temporarily suspends paper recycling

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Changes in the global marketplace for recycled materials are forcing the Lexington Recycle Center to temporarily suspend recycling of paper products. The change will go into effect immediately.

“Outlets for paper products are accepting only limited amounts due to an overabundance of material in domestic markets,” said Nancy Albright, Lexington’s commissioner of Environmental Quality and Public Works. “The Recycle Center does not have the space to store the paper long-term, or in large quantities.”

The city is actively seeking new recycling outlets for paper, Albright said. “At least three new nearby mills are expected to begin receiving materials by late fall of 2019.”

In the meantime, to reduce processing costs, residents are encouraged to throw office paper, newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, paper towel rolls and similar products in their trashcans, Albright said. “Central Kentuckians will be encouraged to once again put paper products in their recycle carts once a reliable outlet is in place.”

Lexington does have a buyer for dry corrugated cardboard, like moving and shipping boxes. Residents should continue to recycle cardboard that is dry.

Recycling markets across the country are under strain due to increased standards in China. Over the past several months, the city has often given mixed paper and paperboard away to avoid sending it to the landfill.

The change affects the materials Lexington Recycle Center (or Lexington Materials Recovery Facility) receives from public and private waste haulers in Lexington and many other Central Kentucky communities, including, Berea, Frankfort, Franklin County, Georgetown, Harrison County, Jessamine County, Madison County, Nicholasville, Paris, Versailles, Winchester and Woodford County.

Residents in all of these communities are encouraged to temporarily refrain from putting paper products in their recycling containers.

The Recycle Center will combine the paper products it receives, and give the paper to recycling outlets, when possible. Unclaimed paper will be landfilled. This process will remain in effect until a reliable recycling outlet is available.