Lexington temporarily suspends paper recycling

This article was updated on May 17, 2019 and on May 15, 2019

Changes in the global marketplace for recycled materials are forcing the Lexington Recycle Center to temporarily suspend recycling of paper products. The change will go into effect immediately.

“Outlets for paper products are accepting only limited amounts due to an overabundance of material in domestic markets,” said Nancy Albright, Lexington’s Commissioner of Environmental Quality and Public Works. “The Recycle Center does not have the space to store the paper long-term, or in large quantities.”

The city is actively seeking new recycling outlets for paper, Albright said. “At least three new nearby mills are expected to begin receiving materials by late fall of 2019.”

In the meantime, to reduce processing costs, residents are encouraged to throw office paper, newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, paper towel rolls and similar products in their trashcans, Albright said. “Central Kentuckians will be encouraged to once again put paper products in their recycle carts once a reliable outlet is in place.”

Lexington does have a buyer for dry corrugated cardboard, like moving and shipping boxes. Residents should continue to recycle cardboard that is dry.

Recycling markets across the country are under strain due to increased standards in China. Over the past several months, the city has often given mixed paper and paperboard away to avoid sending it to the landfill.

Partner communities include Anderson County, Berea, Boyle County, Clark County, Danville, Frankfort, Franklin County, Georgetown, Harrison County, Harrodsburg, Jessamine County, Lawrenceburg, Madison County, Nicholasville, Scott County, Shelby County, Shelbyville, Simpsonville, Versailles and Winchester.

Residents in all of these communities are encouraged to temporarily refrain from putting paper products in their recycling containers.

We are happy to share that some of our partner communities are planning to divert their recycling to another facility during the paper suspension in order to continue to accept paper. UK has a temporary agreement with another processor. Rumpke will take its material to its plant in Cincinnati. Combined UK and Rumpke’s total material is the equivalent of less than 10% of Lexington Recycle Center’s incoming stream. They were able to find another outlet because of the relatively small amount of material.

The Recycle Center will combine the paper products it receives, and give the paper to recycling outlets, when possible. Unclaimed paper will be landfilled. This process will remain in effect until a reliable recycling outlet is available.


The City is also exploring improvements in glass recycling. The current single-stream set-up causes equipment break-downs at the recycling center, and does not produce the most desirable recycling product. The City is evaluating new equipment and the impact of collection changes.


Visit www.LexingtonKY.gov/RecycleUpdates for flyers, tips on reducing your mixed paper use and the most current information on the Lexington Recycle Center.

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