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Commerce without local recycling after only site closes

Commerce is without a recycling program once again, as the recycling site on the university campus has been closed. The Community Recycle Center was located at the intersection of Campbell and Walnut streets, on the southeast side of the university campus. It was a joint effort between the City of Commerce government and Texas A&M University-Commerce. Both the city and the university released statements yesterday announcing the site’s closure.

A number of reasons were cited for the closure. The continued placement of non-recyclable materials in the collection bins was a major cause of the site’s failure. The bins consistently included non-recyclable materials, either from people mistakenly thinking the items were recyclable or just dumping trash. When bins contain too many of these materials, they’re considered contaminated and recyclers cannot process the materials, which end up getting dumped.

Department of Emergency Management and Safety and University Police Chief Brian Vaughn said "We regret that the current recycling program was not a good fit for our community at this time. We are exploring fiscally responsible recycling solutions that might work in the future.”

Commerce City Manager Howdy Lisenbee said "Due to the changes in the market for recycled raw materials, there is increased focus on the contamination of recycled waste streams. Loads of recycled material that contain non-recyclable trash can be considered contaminated and may ultimately end up in a landfill. We will reevaluate the effectiveness of a recycle program in the future."

The program began in 2016 and was helped in its first years by a community volunteer group called Commerce Cares Recycling. The group disbanded in 2020 and cited the dumping of non-recyclable materials as the main reason.

Commerce residents looking to recycle at the Walmart in Sulphur Springs, which recently installed a Community Recycling Unit that accepts specific plastic, paper, and aluminum products.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.