A recycling center drop off at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium is now open, as the city continues to pause its curbside pickup.
“We’re trying to enhance the services,” said Ryan McReynolds, deputy manager for the city of Kingsport.
The city had originally had a recycling drop off at the civic auditorium but closed it a few years ago when there became the need to expansion of Dobyns-Bennett High School.
The city now has rectified that situation, moving it to another location in the area that is more user friendly and will be hidden by shrubbery.
The drop off can be accessed by East Center Street or Auditorium Drive and accepts cardboard, mixed paper, tin and aluminum, city officials said.
It is part of the city’s move to try to get recycling convenience centers as close to all residents as possible, McReynolds said.
“The intent is to look at the geographical footprint of the city and find convenient drop off locations,” he said.
That has become doubly important since the city paused curbside pickup in spring 2020.
There were two factors that caused the stoppage: China, the largest importer of recycling, stopped accepting recycling and vendors looking for recycling became pickier about the type of recycling materials they needed.
“The standard of what they need is getting tighter and tighter and tighter,” McReynolds said.
The drop off locations allow for segmenting of materials at the forefront, he said. With curbside, it is highly manpower extensive to separate the materials.
Kingsport is not alone, though. Several cities have backed off curbside, either asking that only certain materials be recycled or ending the practice altogether.
In Kingsport, just this spring a subscription-service recycling provider opened. Recyclops charges a fee for pickup.
McReynolds said the city does not see the private company as competition.
“I just see they’re seeing a void, they’re coming in and they’re providing a product,” he said.
He said while the city financially cannot conduct curbside effectively right now due to the market, a private business could because they can pass fees onto the customers. He said he knows there is a demand from a certain population who do want to recycle.
But, he said in the end, the city would not base it’s own decisions about the future of recycling around a private business. He said the city would continue to look at trying to restart curbside pickup.
“Whatever that did to Recyclops is not really in our decision matrix,” he said.
The city has provided the boxes for the drop off, but Sullivan County will be in charge of picking up the materials.
The city also has drop off locations in Colonial Heights, Sullivan Gardens, Industry Drive and Brookside Drive.
In the near future, the city plans to move the existing drop-off location on Industry Drive further down the road and expand it to a full-service, fully manned facility capable of accepting recycling, yard waste, household waste and construction debris.