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The average Hillsboro customer would pay an extra $2.90 per month for garbage an recycling.

STAFF PHOTO CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Lance Sommer volunteers during the inaugural PlanetCon recycling event in January.The city of Hillsboro is planning to raise the price of garbage pickup, and the People's Republic of China is to blame.

On May 15, the Hillsboro City Council will consider a plan to increase garbage and recycling rates across the city, as a way to address mounting costs after Chinese companies stopped accepting many types of recyclables.

"As a city, we take every measure possible to avoid increases in rates. However, as costs increase, rate adjustments can be necessary," said Peter Brandom, Hillsboro's senior project manager.

The average commercial and residential customers would pay an extra $2.90 per month, based on a 35-gallon cart, according to Brandom. The average residential customer would see their bill rise from $22.85 to $25.75. Commercial customers would rise from $19.90 to $22.80.

The change would go into effect June 1. This would be the first proposed rate increase on garbage and recycling since 2013.

The market for recycled plastics crashed last year after China, the largest buyer of America's recycled plastic, but imposed stiff regulations on plastics last year. Regulators said the recycled materials the country was getting were too dirty.

Historically, China has been able to accept dirtier loads than other countries because of its low-cost labor and high-tech equipment.

Hillsboro's Far West Recycling plant has stopped accepting Styrofoam and other now difficult to offload plastics as well.

"For years, most of the recyclables from Oregon and beyond have been sold to companies in China for processing," Brandom said. "As a result of this change, new markets for the recycling must be found, and added efforts are needed to better sort the materials at the recycling facility."

Day-to-day costs for the city has risen dramatically during this time, and Brandom said it's unlikely cities across the nation will find a quick solution to the problem.

"The annual assessment to determine whether rates are adequate to cover expenses — or whether an increase is warranted — includes many variables," Brandom said. Costs for labor, fuel, healthcare, landfill, and recycling are taken into account, he said.

City officials boast that, even with the increases, Hillsboro would still have one of the lowest garbage and recycling rates in the region.

Six companies contract with the city to perform waste collection.


The city has posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the rate increase on its website.

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