By Mary Alice Murphy

Alex Brown, Silver City manager, said the whole recycling saga started about three months ago. "We took a load to Tucson and got a $4,000 bill. Before we had gotten a check for the materials. The following month, we were ready to take a delivery to Tucson, and we were informed that the company was no longer taking single-stream recycling products."

Brown said he called around, including to Albuquerque. They, too, were no longer taking in recycling from others. "In fact, they were stockpiling their recycled materials and received a citation from the state because of the large amount of materials they had."

"I called El Paso," Brown said. "They wouldn't even talk to us, because they were not taking new customers."

Part of the problem was that during this time, Brown went on a week's vacation. "But a few individuals called around. A woman called El Paso to ask if they were still taking plastics. The guy tells her, he'll take her plastics if she wants to bring them. She talked to the manager and he said since it was only one residential account, he would take it, 'if they want to bring it from Silver City, we'll take it'" he told Brown. "But he stuck by his reasoning of not taking new customers."

About that time, Brown was talking to Dora Gonzales, the Southwest Solid Waste Authority business manager. She said that when the town first started doing single-stream recycling, they were taking the materials to El Paso.

"So, I called the El Paso group back and told them that we were an existing customer," Brown said. "They checked their records and confirmed that we had an account. So, last Thursday, July 12, I talked to the owner who again said their policy was to only serve existing customers, but that we had an account. 'We'll take your recycling,' he told me."

The difference is that the town will be paying $25 a ton, "but the system will be exactly like it was before. Single-stream in the curbside bins. I will propose to the town that they raise the landfill fee by 90 cents a month."

When asked about those in the county and Mining District who recycle in the roll-off bins, Brown said nothing would change.

"The way the recycling contract is, Silver City pays the full bill at Southwest Solid Waste Authority," Brown said. "The town gets credit for the metals and materials that make money. The county and the Mining District get it for free, but the county and mining district municipalities make up a very small percentage of the recycling materials. We will not cut back on the roll-off bins. "

He said since the town did the curbside bins for recycling, the amounts of recycled materials have increased dramatically. "There is no market for glass anywhere, but the company in El Paso said it can make recycling successful, working with the markets for materials that can be reused."

As a member of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, Brown receives newsletters and keeps up with market trends in the recycling business.

Brown said the town believes recycling is important enough to pay for shipping recyclables and paying for them.

"We're not cutting anything, but we can't guarantee, it will continue," Brown concluded.