Aware Inc. recycling services closing in Butte

It’s less than a month until the biggest recycling plant in Butte shuts down for good.

It’s less than a month until the biggest recycling plant in Butte shuts down for good.

Aware Inc. is blaming the shutdown on state funding cuts and a drop in the value of recycled products.

The plant's main drop-off center is on East Arizona Street. It allows Butte residents to drop off aluminum cans, cardboard and bottles, among other items. The items are going to be much harder to recycle when services discontinue by the end of April, according to Aware Inc. public policy officer Pat Noonan.

Noonan tells NBC Montana state budget cuts, falling commodity prices and the costs of shipping recycled goods have quadrupled in price.

"We really felt like we were getting it going and doing something meaningful, so to have that end and have it also end for a service for the city and being able to recycle in Butte is really a tragedy,” Noonan said.

Butte resident Bob Lienemann and his wife, Diane, said they've been recycling in Butte for decades and want to see it continue.

"It's a shame. It's an absolute shame, and the city of Butte needs to figure out how to solve this problem. We've got to continue recycling,” Lienemann said.

Noonan said Aware Inc. has been in the recycling business for about a decade. He says he'd like to see someone else take over operations.

Otherwise about 300 households will have to forfeit their curbside service, and collecting will stop at bins in town and at the drop-off center.

"We're willing to work with anybody. We're willing to talk about our equipment and the space and anything we need. We would love to see somebody continue recycling here in Butte, because we think it's important. But, for us, recycling is not in the future,” Noonan said.

As for Lienemann, it starts with this: "We need to get more participation in recycling, and Butte-Silver Bow needs to seriously figure out how to continue this.”

There are still some places in town where you can drop off cardboard and metals, including Pacific Steel and Recycling and the Butte-Silver Bow Landfill. H & H Trading also accepts metal.

Recycling isn't the only thing Butte is losing -- there are also jobs on the line. Noonan said the recycling plant employs 12 full-time workers and four other employees.

He said Aware will try to find jobs for them elsewhere in the organization, but their current jobs are being eliminated.

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