Thank you Arlene Helmbrecht for bringing forward recycling issues in Montana.

Ravalli County Recycling (RCR) is a grassroots nonprofit organization started about seven years ago. We are proud of our accomplishments, but feel stymied by lack of support from the county government and the volatile recyclables market.

China has severely limited their purchase of recyclables since much of the material they received is no longer valuable (e.g. pasteboard) or was severely contaminated (e.g. plastics in other products). Therefore RCR, along with other Montana recycling programs, cannot accept those materials and what we do collect must be very clean in order to sell them in the recyclables market.

To our knowledge, RCR is the only Montana-based recycling program that is not supported in some way by their county government. RCR runs on donations from the public, small grants and the sales of the recyclables we collect. All of which just cover the cost of our dedicated employees, equipment maintenance and bills. We strive to provide the best service we can on our shoestring budget and sell the highest quality recyclables.

How can the public help? First and foremost, find ways to generate less waste. Second, volunteer with RCR. Third, contact the Ravalli County Commissioners and ask them to get serious about recycling in the Bitterroot Valley. Because Arlene, we agree with you. We live in a beautiful natural resource that should be cherished and left to our grandchildren better than we found it.

Cindi Schwartz, president, Ravalli County Recycling