June 21, 2013

As China Goes, So Goes Recycling

A video and two links — all from the Pacific Northwest — about realities in the recycling business:

"Sorting through Piles of So-Called Recycling," about the disconnects that still exist between what is labeled as recyclable or thought to be recyclable versus what actually is recyclable.
Part of the problem . . . is that the recycling symbol shows up on things that can't really be recycled or can't be sorted at the sorting facility: Disposable coffee cup lids, giant pet food bags and all kinds of plastic.

"There are no regulations on whether you can put chasing arrows on your product," he said. "Most people do it right, but there are no regulations. A lot of people, as long as they see the chasing arrows, think it’s recyclable. And you can throw it in your curbside bin, but if it’s not part of the program, we can’t possibly sort through that many things."
The other factor is economic: "Recyclers Limit Plastic Collection As China Stops Buying."
Chinese recyclers are no longer buying plastic items with the numbers 3, 6 or 7 on them, and inspectors are checking for and rejecting shipments of mixed plastics from overseas. The list of plastics China no longer wants includes disposable coffee cup lids, PVC pipes, certain kinds of clamshell containers, and garden planters with flexible walls, to name a few.
The restrictions have left recycling companies across U.S. without buyers for many of the plastics they have traditionally accepted. They don't affect curbside recycling items like milk jugs and yogurt tubs, but they are limiting which miscellaneous plastics recycling depots will accept.
I have been stuffing our torn or otherwise not-usable plastic bags into the collection bins in stores, all the while if I am being conned by food-industry campaigns that say "Look! We're recycling!" but which in reality are about heading off plastic-bag bans. Supposedly the bags are used in making composite lumber.

1 comment:

Is She Dangerous said...

I think if people took the time to read what they curbside pickup company does pickup, they wouldn't be putting stuff that doesn't count in there. Shamefully for a long time, I was ignorant of that until I bought my own home, set up the recycle account and got the pamphlets as to what is allowed or not allowed. Before that though, it was rental units and I didn't know the details.

Maybe recycling companies need to send out a flier once a year to remind people or an email, something to notify. I know for our company that there are a lot of things with the chasing arrows that is not accepted, I keep it on my fridge so I can reference it.

There is also the issue that people figure the recycle company can sort it all out and they can keep feeling good about themselves.