Lexington mayor announces proposal to overhaul troubled recycling center

Published: Jun. 21, 2019 at 3:37 PM EDT
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Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced changes Friday to the recycling program in hopes of getting the operation back on track.

Workers at the recycling facility have been unable to process certain items for over a month, leading to Mayor Gorton's announcement. Gorton says she plans to revamp the entire recycling center, including the possibility of new machinery.

Gorton says the current processing plant is outdated, causing employees at the facility to take on tasks more difficult than what should be necessary. The overhaul will also include markets and contracts for materials, creating a strategic plan, and investigating the possibility of turning over the facility to private operators.

Chief of Staff Tyler Scott tells WKYT's Nick Oliver the market for recycled materials has crashed. He says they are having problems finding vendors to purchase Lexington's recycled materials -- leading to the center giving away materials before paper operations were suspended.

"We are one of many cities in this overall region that are looking at the same dilemma that there is no current market for paper," said Scott. "We are all trying to figure out how to secure that contract and they have to figure out how much they can bring in."

Scott says the city is currently in negotiations with two vendors, one in western Kentucky and the other in West Virginia, who may purchase Lexington's paper when their facilities are built in the fall of 2019.

The city says they have hired consultants with Resource Recycling Systems to help the city move in the new direction.

Scott says they are also having problems with the machine that recycles glass. He says the machine does not grind the glass down to a fine product that vendors want to purchase. The machine is also on the list of items to replace if the center feels they can make their money back in glass sold.

The center still accepts most products but it is yet to be determined when they will accept the select paper products.