Company that sorts El Paso’s recycling faces funding issues due to China ban

Friedman recycling plant (KFOX14)

The city of El Paso has decided not to restructure the deal it has with its recycling contractor.

Friedman Recycling Co. approached the city with a new deal following China’s latest ban on recyclable materials.

The company is responsible for separating and disposing of the recycling collected by city’s Environmental Services Department.

It would then sell these items to China.

But, the Chinese government put a ban on more than two dozen items that Friedman used to sell to China.

"It's something that's unprecedented and unpredictable,” Morris Friedman, president of Friedman Recycling, said.

This is making the company do the same amount of work without this cash flow coming in.

“It's simply the reaction of the Chinese government putting a mandated ban on products coming into the country,” Friedman said. “This significantly and fundamentally changes the recycling industry."

City Council decided to take no action on restructuring the contract with Friedman. It said it didn’t have the money to pay Friedman more in a new contract.

"But you have to remember that the $4 fee, if that were to be approved by council, would be in addition to the tax increase,” Ellen Symth director of Environmental Services Department, said. “It was pretty clear last year when they raised taxes that they were going to be doing same. so they have to balance the request for police, fire and everything else."

This decision by the city of El Paso is impacting other communities as well. Las Cruces works in conjunction with El Paso to clear out its recycling. Without an El Paso plant, Las Cruces now has to resort to a Plan B according to the South Central Solid Waste Authority.

Some people still hope something can be done for the future of recycling.

"I think it's wrong we need recycling,” Karen Fought said, “I think we need more."

"I think they can split it up. Financing splitting it up in years,” Carlos Esplain said. “You know would probably benefit them too."

"So, I would hope that our city government would be able to come up with a solution to our recycling program,” Fif Heller-Kaim said.

The city and Friedman say neither side is at fault for these changes the ban caused.

Symth said the city is hopefully their recycling contractor can weather this financial storm.

If Friedman is unable to, the city says it will have to go back to different separate collection sites. It said it did this before the recycling program started in 2007.

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