Following a discussion of recycling policies late last year between Harvey County administration, the county commission and the county's outside contractor, Waste Connections, changes went into effect at the start of 2020.

With a shrinking market for recyclables and a growing contamination rate among the loads being brought in to the Harvey County Solid Waste transfer station, Waste Connections came before the county commission with two options this past fall — to restructure its contracted hauling rates or eliminate the county's policy on mandatory recycling.

Harvey County commissioners officially moved to repeal Resolution 2010-8, enforcing mandatory recycling for county residents, in November 2019 and also approved the implementation of a new system with bans and fines to be levied to haulers bringing in recycling loads that exceeded the acceptable contamination rate (10%) for Waste Connections.

Overall, recycling contamination in total was measured at about 36% during a review conducted by Waste Connections in October 2019. With the responsibility for recycling moved off the county, that left the individual cities to consider their options.

Halstead has been looking to change to improve its recycling practices.

Avoiding those bans, hauler Nisly has still had its recycling loads reviewed at the transfer station — with reports that contamination in Halstead is down to 15%.

Since review of recycling loads started, city staff in Halstead have been trying to communicate acceptable practices to residents both through monthly notices and on Facebook, much of that focused on differentiating between recyclable materials and normal solid waste, such as dirty cardboard and plastic bags.

Newton recently moved to voluntary recycling at a proposed increase of $1.08 per month to all customers, with 2,341 opting in for recycling as of Feb. 11.

Hesston has had more success, with rates staying under that 10 percent threshold, as the city adopted its own recycling policy immediately once the county repealed its policy.