After local recycling programs were canned due to people throwing all manners of household trash in the bins, Payson Councilor Scott Nossek says he gets asked about recycling “as much as anything.”
Recently, he might have stumbled upon a solution: Recyclops.
It’s a recycling company that charges a monthly fee for curbside pickup service of all things recyclable, including cans, glass, newspapers and cardboard.
“This company checks out by my research, but always good to research yourself,” he wrote on his council Facebook page.
So, the Roundup reached out to Recyclops CEO and founder Ryan Smith to do just that.
“We’ve been in business for seven years. We are operating in nine states and 80 municipalities,” he said.
But didn’t China stop buying recyclables? Didn’t that crash the recycling market?
It did, said Smith, but that didn’t stop the demand from U.S. recycling processing plants.
What crashed were revenue-generating programs run by cities such as San Diego. They created huge recycling programs based on garbage trucks filled with recyclable material that all too often had materials that would gum up the recycling process – including food or worse. That turned the recyclables into trash, which meant someone had to sort through it all over again. China bought it all. Until it didn’t.
Smith actually started Recyclops well before that crisis when he noticed municipal recycling programs shutting down, especially in the rural areas.
“Recycling is a lot more expensive than it used to be (and) no one wants to increase fees to residents,” he said. “That’s the big problem, massive amounts of infrastructure are required, garbage trucks, staff, etc. Phoenix has the infrastructure and has the facilities, (then) it is just a matter of getting the material there.”
Payson simply doesn’t have that kind of infrastructure, nor do many other smaller towns and cities in the country.
Smith didn’t have a solution until he saw a local mom and pop shop in Utah running a small curbside recyclable pick-up service. They relied on their Suburban and a trailer.
“They made it work,” he said.
So he asked to buy their business, but first he learned “a ton about it.”
“Suddenly I saw, hey, this can be done without garbage trucks,” said Smith.
Then Uber and its independent contractors came to Smith’s mind, and Recyclops was born.
The secret to Smith’s business plan lies in hiring independent route drivers. They provide the car, Smith provides the routes and up to $25 an hour for work.
“We have set schedules. A pickup day. Just like with your trash. We put up routes. The routes are various sizes,” said Smith. “You sign up, you know exactly what you have. (The schedule) is constant and reliable.”
Once enough material gets collected in a recycled shipping container, Recyclops sends it to a processing plant in Phoenix.
It takes 100 houses for Smith to bring his monthly recycling pickup program into a community.
Subscriptions run from $12 a month to $19.
Once Recyclops reaches 100 sign-ups in Payson, they will start service.
Subscriptions provide special bags and accept plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard. For an additional fee, Recyclops will take glass.
“Glass is abrasive and dangerous. We have a thicker bag for that,” said Smith.
Smith has also now partnered with the Humane Society of Central Arizona. That organization has relied on receipts from aluminum can recycling, but now Recyclops can handle all that recycling. For every subscription, the Humane Society receives a dollar donation.
Smith said he will advertise for drivers once routes develop. He did not say how many drivers he would hire to start.
To sign up, go to https://recyclops.com/ or call 801-709-1509.