Giving Compass' Take:

• Citizens in small U.S. cities are collaborating on how to retain a recycling program in response to China's global ban on imported scraps.

• Why is this disruption in China hitting small U.S. cities in particular? How can local officials access donor capital to help fund needs for a sustainable recycling program? 

• Read more about how recycling is increasing after China bans imported scraps. 

Hardships caused by China's global recycling industry disruptions have been particularly acute in small U.S. cities and towns over the past year.

While cities crunch the numbers and try to find economically feasible ways of retaining a recycling program — reverting to a depot drop-off system in lieu of curbside collection, for instance — citizens are also stepping up. From organizing parking lot glass recycling events to biking around town picking up material, local businesses and citizens are finding their own ways to contribute.

"This is the secret to success, looking at it from a grassroots, community-based level," said Laura Leebrick, community and governmental affairs manager for Oregon-based Rogue Disposal & Recycling.

While the entire North American recycling industry has felt some effects of China's scrap import bans and restrictions, municipal pain has, for the most part, been realized in the form of increased collecting and processing service fees. Smaller cities, however, are feeling the brunt of the blow — their curbside collection programs have derailed, and some have folded altogether.

Small municipalities now have to decide what to do "given the reality of China and that it's not changing," said Mike Durfor, executive director of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA). "People have figured out this is a long-term deal."

The changes affect small cities more "because of our limited budgets," said Brian Steadman, public works superintendent in Milton-Freewater, OR.

Another reality is that small cities simply don't have the same volume of recovered material as big cities, making their curbside programs less economically viable. Small cities often lack alternative service options if they lose a recycling contractor, and soaring transportation costs make collecting recyclable materials in spread-out areas a less feasible venture than in large, dense cities.

Read the full article about recycling by Katie Pyzyk at Smart Cities Dive