The future of recycling in the Valley

The city of Surprise is the latest Arizona city to suspend its curbside recycling program due to high costs. But the city of Phoenix is trying a high-tech approach to their recycling program. 

The city of Phoenix says they're investing about $5 million dollars in new technology at their north Phoenix recycling center that will, in turn, make recycling more cost-effective. This comes at the same time Surprise suspended their program. 

"You know I was surprised, I don't see why we'd be doing that to the environment," says a Surprise resident. 

In a press release, city officials in Surprise say it became too expensive to keep it going.

Many other cities across the state, including Globe and Casa Grande, have also stopped recycling, citing the same issue. 

It all stems from China, which was one of the largest importers of recycled materials, but China announced the country was limiting its imports due to environmental concerns and putting higher restrictions on what gets imported. 

So how could this affect the largest city in Arizona?

"Our citizens really value recycling, so we're doing everything we can and being proactive to make sure our recycle programs remain viable and intact," said Joe Giudice, Phoenix Assistant Public Works Director. 

Joe Giudice is the Assistant Public Works Director for the city of Phoenix, and he says the city is investing in state of the art technology. This new technology will be able to better sort actual recyclables from waste.

"A couple of pieces of newspaper might get into a bundle of plastic, well they used to allow two to three percent of that is ok, but now they're saying less than .5 of that is ok, well the equipment at those facilities wasn't designed for that type of work to get it to that level of cleanliness," explained Giudice. 

He says the investment will keep labor costs down in the long run. 

"It was important to us to preserve these programs so that was cost-effective to our customers," said Giudice. 

The money for the new technology comes from a loan as well as city money from Phoenix and Peoria, which will also use the facility. 

It's expected to be installed next month and ready to go by December.