At western Mass. recycling plant, jobs hinge on delicate contract

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — You may not realize it, but recycling is delicate business.

For example, K-cups need to be opened and rinsed before they hit the recycling bin; pizza boxes can only end up there if they are free of grease stains.

There is a lot of stuff commonly put in bins that can’t actually be recycled.

For years, China has been one of the few countries with companies willing to buy and sort the material.

But two years ago, the country announced it would no longer accept that recycling.

At the same time, the state's contract with Waste Management Recycle America is about to expire.

[Everyone is recycling wrong, but it’s not your fault]

The new contract is expected to increase recycling fees significantly.

In Springfield, the process of recycling actually paid for itself as the plant being used made money on processing the materials.

Under the new plan, the city would have to pay more than a million dollars for the same service.

If it can't, the plant would go out of business and residents would have to find a new option.

Similar scenarios are now playing out across the state.

Cities and towns are now scrambling to find a workable solution, with little time to sort it out before the new contract and pricing goes into effect in July of this year.

[A guide to Mass. towns’ recycling programs]