Another budget line is being squeezed as the city of Nashville works through a cash crunch.
A year after leaders announced an increase to the frequency of curbside recycling pickup, officials have decided they can no longer afford the move.
Metro Public Works said Monday they’ll temporarily delay the upgrade to every-other-week service. The change could still come to fruition partway into the year.
Public Works says it spends about $2.2 million each year on curbside recycling. The proposed increase would have cost an additional $1.7 million.
Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher, who oversaw the city budget when recycling upgrades were approved, said the additional service met a demand from residents. But the reversal shows how desperate the city is to find savings.
“I’m not surprised,” she said. “It really paints a clear picture of where we are as a city.”
In February 2019, city leaders said they’d secured recycling grants to make the change possible. Metro said it would buy 16 extra trucks and hire 13 employees to serve about 140,000 customers.
But the city is now citing drastic cost increases as the demand for recycled material is drying up overseas. Public Works says its recycling vendor is losing money on its current contract and is in negotiations.
In the meantime, the department says it will focus on educating residents about what shouldn’t be put into their bins. An estimated 30% of what’s currently picked up can’t be recycled, and that contamination makes the city’s materials less valuable.