The City Council voted unanimously to allow the increase Tuesday.

Ashland Sanitary Service Co. garbage rates will increase 7.7 percent as of July 1. The City Council voted unanimously to allow the increase Tuesday.

A resident who pays $15.42 per month to have a trash can of garbage removed each week will pay $16.61 when the price increase goes into effect.

The global economic slowdown, and especially a drop in China's buying of recyclable material, is contributing to rising garbage pick-up costs in Ashland.

Ashland Sanitary Service Co. co-owner Gary Rigotti said his company used to be able to sell a ton of recyclables and earn $22. Now, the company is paying $27.50 per ton to send recyclables to a sorting facility in Clackamas, he said.

The company earned $98,000 from recyclables in 2008, but will pay an estimated $82,000 this year to transport recyclables unless commodity markets improve.

While recyclables were valuable during economic boom times, the recession has hurt prices for paper, glass and plastics in the commodity markets.

"They just fell off a cliff in November," Russ Chapman, co-owner of the garbage and recycling company, told City Councilors on Tuesday night.

China, the world's largest importer of garbage, gets 70 percent of the material that feeds its recycling industry from abroad, The New York Times reported in March.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries estimated that the value of American recyclables that are sent abroad has dropped by 50 to 70 percent, with paper plunging by as much as 80 percent, The New York Times said.

But Ashland residents who might be tempted to simply throw recyclables in the trash should continue to recycle. Not only is recycling good for the environment, it keeps garbage rates from going even higher, according to recycling officials.

Paying $27.50 per ton to transport recyclables to Clackamas is still cheaper than the $40.35 per ton Ashland Sanitary Co. must pay to dump garbage at the Dry Creek Landfill.

Dry Creek Landfill has instituted a 15.95 percent increase on garbage tipping fees, which was also a factor in Ashland Sanitary Services Co.'s fee increase.

Although Ashland Sanitary Services Co. will be increasing rates for regular garbage pick-up, it is not raising rates on services that help people who generate small amounts of trash.

Customers can buy a package of five bright yellow trash bags from the company for $23.37, or about $4.67 per bag.

When a bag is full, the customer puts it out on the street by 7 a.m. on the day when trash is normally picked up in the customer's neighborhood.

Customers can also buy a package of five fluorescent stickers for $35.05, or $7.01 per sticker. When a trash can gets full, a customer puts the sticker on the can and faces the can toward the street for pick-up. Again, the trash can must be set out on the normal pick-up day for that neighborhood.

A person who uses the sticker program and puts out only two trash cans worth of garbage each month would pay $14.02 for the month. That compares to the monthly cost of $16.61 as of July 1 for weekly pick-up of one trash can.

In 2008, Ashland Sanitary Service Co. sold 1,330 of the bright yellow trash bags and 3,565 of the fluorescent stickers for trash cans.

In 2007, the company took 23,745 tons of trash to the Dry Creek Landfill, compared to 21,381 tons in 2008. That represents a 10 percent drop.

Recycling fell by 3.9 percent from 2007 to 2008, from 3,980 tons to 3,826 tons.

People recycled 2,107 tons of yard waste through the Green Debris Program in 2007. That amount increased by 9 percent to 2,300 tons in 2008, according to figures from Ashland Sanitary Service Co.

Garbage fees aren't the only monthly bills that are rising in part because of the economic recession.

The Ashland City Council approved a 20 percent increase in sewer bills, which went into effect in April, in part because the recession has dampened sales at restaurants. That has led to the city receiving less money from its 5 percent sales tax on prepared food and beverages.

The bulk of the sales tax goes to pay debt for past upgrades to the city's sewage treatment plant.

Water bills went up 10 percent in part because people are using less water and the city has to recover its overhead costs for the water system.

For more information on garbage service, recycling and discount programs, call Ashland Sanitary Services Co. at 482-1471.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.