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Paper recycling service may return to Central Ky. communities as City of Lexington issues RFP

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Efforts to re-establish paper recycling in a dozen Central Kentucky counties has taken a step forward with the announcement last week that the City of Lexington has posted a request for proposals, or RFP, to businesses that may want to provide the service.

Changes in the global marketplace for recycled materials forced the Lexington Recycle Center to temporarily suspend recycling of paper products in May, forcing residents to begin putting paper products into the trash, instead of recycling bins they had been using for years.

Recycling looks to be returning to several surrounding central Kentucky counties via the city of Lexington. (Kentucky Today file photo)

“We’ve done our homework and put together an RFP that will provide Lexington with a sound paper recycling operation,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “We’ve found that traditional options are no longer available. It has taken time, but I think we now have a clear picture of what is needed.”

Resource Recycling Systems, consultants who have been working with the City since June, put the RFP together, ensuring it would work with other types of recycling, now and in the future. Gorton said the City hopes to have recycling back online in late fall.

Gorton suspended paper recycling in June because there was no market for recycled paper. The city could not give it away and had no room to store it. “People ask me about it all the time,” she said. “They say they’re not comfortable putting paper in the trash, and neither am I. We’re all anxious to get back to recycling.”

The city of Lexington has already invested in equipment to improve its aluminum sorting machine and is considering buying equipment to improve glass recycling.

“We’re looking at all the angles,” Gorton said. “Lexington’s recycling program has needed an overhaul for several years. Our facility is inadequate, our equipment is outdated and markets for recyclables have changed. We’re putting together a good plan to move forward. Our overhaul needs to be comprehensive and sustainable.”

In June, Gorton said negotiations were ongoing with two recycled paper mills now under construction, and that the city had hoped to be able to send paper materials to them when they open this fall but will be aggressively pursuing all possibilities. That resulted in the new RFP.

The recycling center not only serves Lexington but partner communities that include: Anderson County, Berea, Boyle County, Clark County, Danville, Frankfort, Franklin County, Georgetown, Harrison County, Harrodsburg, Jessamine County, Lawrenceburg, Madison County, Midway, Montgomery County, Mt. Sterling, Nicholasville, Paris, Scott County, Shelby County, Shelbyville, Simpsonville, Versailles, Winchester and Woodford County.

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