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.The other factor is economic: "Recyclers Limit Plastic Collection As China Stops Buying."
"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."
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.
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.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.