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Arizona Cities Face Recycling Collapse Without State, Federal Dollars

Tucson will reduce its recycling collection to every other week starting the last week of September. The announcement comes a week after Surprise halted its program.

Several cities in Arizona are making adjustments since China stopped buying U.S. recyclables almost two years ago. But, Phoenix is still maintaining its services.

"Different states have different programs so in California, there are a lot of state grant programs, etc. Arizona from a state program perspective doesn’t have a lot. The cities are typically the ones bearing that in Arizona," said Joe Giudice, assistant Public Works director for the city of Phoenix. He said every city in Arizona has to figure out its own solution.

"Cities and residents eventually at some point will have to address the fact that the revenue that was generated from the sale of recyclables — that the costs of processing recyclables have changed, or at least in today’s market, and those additional costs have to be paid for," he said.

Textiles and food are common items that contaminate recyclables and make them costly to process. The added expense is too high for many cities to absorb and programs are reducing or stopping.

In Arizona, costs are being absorbed at the city level. In other states, like California, state-level grant programs help pay for expenses. And some cities, including Phoenix are now turning to private investors to help pay for some portion of recycling programs.

Heather van Blokland moved to Phoenix in March 2016 to join KJZZ as a host/producer, after working as an on-air host/producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, covering middays, weekends and most everything in between. van Blokland previously worked as a Morning Edition host and reporter at Florida NPR affiliate WUFT-FM, covering business and agriculture beats. She was also the local producer and editor for StoryCorps’ story booth.Like many in public media, van Blokland brings a diverse background to her daily duties. Her first career was in the private sector as a financial analyst manager in commercial and investment banking. She also used to teach canoeing and kayaking on the local rivers in North Central Florida. Her education includes a master’s in mass communication from the University of Florida, a bachelor’s in finance, marketing and multinational business from Florida State University, and a diploma in acting for film and television from Vancouver Film School in Vancouver, British Columbia. She wrote and produced a film, later submitted to the Vancouver International Film Festival.In her free time, van Blokland enjoys exploring the outdoors, everything from a hike on South Mountain to Vancouver's Butchart Gardens to a ride through Swaziland’s Mkhaya Game Reserve. Her travels have included South Africa, Swaziland, western Canada, Australia, the British Isles, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and summers on the outskirts of London. She is also a certified open-water diver, and still looking to apply that skill in Phoenix.Half Southern and half English, van Blokland enjoys using phrases that surprise people. She does not enjoy steak and kidney pie or Monty Python. You can send your ardent disagreements with this statement to her directly at [email protected].