Survive The Great Recycling Crisis With These Recycle Tips
Have you ever wondered what happens to your recycling after it’s carted away? You may not know it, but there has been a quiet crisis brewing in that iconic blue bin since January 2018. This is when China officially stopped importing foreign recyclables. The reason—too many of these materials proved unrecyclable. This has dramatically disrupted the recycling industry in America, which previously exported 40 percent of the nation’s recyclables to China. This has left tons of materials with nowhere to go.
So what does this mean for your own recycling program, and are there any ways to curtail the crisis? Although these issues require a system-wide overhaul, there are a few easy ways you can mitigate your impact.
Aluminum and paper are usually acceptable, however not everything that’s plastic can go into the blue bin. Many forms of plastic are too unstable or flimsy to become other products, such as plastic shopping bags. To check, look for the recycle sign. If the logo has a number one or two, that means this particular item is good to go. These types of plastic are easily recyclable in the U.S., while other forms prove trickier to process within the current system.
One big reason behind China’s decision to halt their recycling importation, which caused the recycling crisis? Too many materials, though perfectly recyclable, proved useless because of contamination. Glass, paper, aluminum and plastic become too costly to process if contaminated with residue, even from food. To avoid this, encourage your program participants to rinse out any items for recycling, so you can secure its quality. Also consider adopting a multiple-bin system separating different types of materials, as pre-sorting greatly improves recyclability.
Your carefully cleaned and sorted recycling can be ruined so easily with one careless addition of a half-filled coffee cup. Mixing acceptable materials with items that cannot be processed often leads to the rejection of the entire load. Be sure to educate your participants about not adding improper items into recycling receptacles. Also consider replacing these typical single-use items with greener alternatives, like reusable or biodegradable products.