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INDEPENDENCE — it’s been about nine years since the last franchise agreement between the city of Independence and Brandt’s Sanitary Service was agreed upon.

City manager Tom Pessemier brought the issue up at the Oct. 29 city council meeting because of questions and complaints the city received about “recycling and the decrease in service we’ve seen from Brandt’s.”

“I mentioned this a number of months ago, but recycling is becoming a very large problem throughout the country, with the inability to ship products to China,” Pessemier said.

Even internally, products like glass and plastic, have no market value, he said.

In 2018, Josh Brandt, manager for Brandt’s Sanitary Service, said China went from “being a market that was viable for us to utilize to basically being shut down completely. I mean ships of items sent over being returned. That cost then gets pushed back on us and both ways.”

China’s standards for accepting co-mingled recycling changed, Brandt said.

In efforts to clean up recycling, many haulers are limiting what they will take in co-mingled bins, focusing on No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, and eliminating food-contaminated cardboard items such as egg cartons and pizza boxes.

Pessemier said city staff will look to have a conversation about a franchise agreement with Brandt’s about recycling and “other pieces as well.”

“I just wanted to let you know, it’s on my radar,” Pessemier told councilors. “Those franchise agreements can be a lot of work, but I think it’s time we probably looked at that and figure out how we want to approach that.”

The current agreement references recycle material but does not give definitions.

“There really isn’t anything we have in the agreement that would help us say what level of service we want,” Pessemier said. “That’s important to them and to us — important for them to know if we have a particular level of service that we are expecting in that area, then what does it cost exactly for us.”

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