CHAMPAIGN – Frequent users of the city's recycling dropoff center who were wondering where they would bring their recyclables when the center closes need no longer worry – if they're willing to pay for the service.
Steven Rosenberg, CEO of Champaign-based Green Purpose LLC, said he plans to open a recycling dropoff site on Jan. 1 as the city plans to close its recycling center to save money and accommodate a new at-home recycling pickup program.
Because the city's recycling pickup programs apply only to addresses within the city limits, that left a lot of Champaign County residents without a recycling outlet.
But Rosenberg's center, about a block from the city's site on Hagan Street, is "going to be accepting everything that the current center accepts, but we're going to be bringing a little more to the table than that."
Customers will still be able to bring the typical recyclables – newsprint, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and the like – but Rosenberg said the new recycling center will expand that list. Green Purpose will accept things like ink cartridges and potentially wood pallets, he said.
But customers will have to be willing to pay for the service that they have for years been getting for free. Basic membership will cost $5 monthly, Rosenberg said, and users can also opt to buy a premium membership for $10 monthly.
That premium price will give members access to more services like a rewards points program and a "materials exchange program." Rosenberg said the materials exchange would allow members to get rid of items that are not necessarily recyclable via more traditional means.
"I don't mean necessarily anything, (like) trash," Rosenberg said. "But if you clean out your garage, you're going to have a lot of stuff that may not be recyclable, but it's still usable."
But will people be willing to pay?
"That was our initial concern," Rosenberg said. But that is why Green Purpose tries to offer additional services that customers are not accustomed to receiving from the city for free, he added.
The group is hoping to have 3,000 members signed up before its New Year's Day grand opening.