WESTFIELD — On a recent afternoon here, with urgency in the air, local officials huddled to consider what until recently was unthinkable. Should they abandon their popular curbside recycling program? Or spend millions to build a plant to process plastic and paper on their own?
With the recycling market across the country mired in crisis, a growing number of cities and towns are facing a painful reckoning: whether they can still afford to collect bottles, cans, plastics, and paper, which have so plummeted in value that in some cases they have become effectively worthless.
“We’re looking at going from paying nothing to paying $500,000 a year,’’ said Dave Billips, the director of public works in Westfield, referring to the city’s recycling costs. “That’s going to have a major impact.’’