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Have dead batteries? It’s going to cost you to recycle

A 50-cent charge per pound of household batteries, such as those in flashlights, was among the new fees for recycling approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

The city also will begin charging $3 a month for single-stream recycling, which all city residents will see on their monthly bills beginning in April.

Durango’s neighboring residents also will be charged a $1 fee to drop off a 60-gallon container of recyclables at the Recycle Center on Tech Center Drive whenever renovations are completed in late spring or summer.

The new recycling fees are expected to generate $262,000, which Councilor Dick White said was necessary to make recycling pay for itself.

“We have subsidized recycling with trash collection (fees),” White said. “Hopefully, we’ll come close to breaking even.”

The new charge for batteries would go into effect at the same time Recycling Center renovations are completed.

Currently, the city collects batteries at Durango Public Library and Transit Center at no charge with costs covered by trash fees.

The cost to recycle batteries varies depending on battery type, but generally from 50 cents to $4 a pound, said Mary Beth Miles, the city’s sustainability director.

Unlike recyclables such as cardboard or glass, batteries usually are classified as hazardous waste and are not considered “commodities,” Miles said. The city works with battery recycling firms to dispose of them.

“Rechargeable batteries – including lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium and nickel metal-hydride batteries – are the only types of batteries that have a nominal monetary value,” Miles said in an email. “These batteries are typically worth 15 cents to 25 cents per pound. With that being said, less than one percent of the batteries that the city collects are rechargeable.”

Last year, the city collected 6,400 pounds of batteries and expects to collect as many as 9,000 pounds this year.

Otherwise, city fees for recycling electronics, such as computers and TVs, will remain unchanged.

Commercial haulers and regional municipalities haulers will be charged a contamination surcharge of 4 percent by weight or volume. There also could be a $65 surcharge for the city’s costs of reloading material.

Since the single-stream program began in February, recycling collections have increased by 55 percent and 55 percent of all households are expected to be in the program by the end of the month, which compares to 35 percent of household participating in the old single-source collection program, Miles said.

In other business:

The council approved “Oxbow Park and Preserve” as the name for the Cameron-Sterk conservation area. Councilor White called it a name that “will resonate with users for years to come.”

Mayor Doug Lyon commended city staff for increasing the fund balance to $9.8 million at the end of 2012, a 35 percent increase in the fund balance since the start of the recession in 2007. He praised staff for managing expenses amid the financial crisis.

While the economy picked up last year, White also said the city was deprived of revenue from the La Plata Electric Association fee for much of the year.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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