I remember from my early days as a recycling coordinator in Virginia the stress of finding outlets that would accept the recyclables from our curbside recycling programs. Plenty of sleepless nights.
Like most industries, the recycling industry has business cycles that go up and down but even the “ups” these days for some of the materials collected just means that the processor is willing to take it for free — and the downs is seeing the recyclables end up in landfills.
There’s not a lot we can do locally about global markets but we can do our part to make sure to provide as “contaminant free” recyclables as possible.
In market times like this even the slightest trash mixed in the recyclables will cause the secondary users to reject the materials so it’s a good time to be overly zealous in following the rules on our recycling bins.
The City of Kent has a contract with Portage County Solid Waste District (“Portage Recycles”) to run the City’s recycling programs — and Bill Steiner, the Executive Director is the guy with the sleepless nights worrying about moving his product.
Here’s a recent appeal from Bill that he sent around to his “suppliers” — all of the cities that rely on Portage County recycling.
EMAIL FROM BILL STEINER:
Below you will find a link to a recent news video that was on the NBC Nightly news. Please share this email and information with your colleagues. It is very important that the recyclables collected by the District have as few contaminates as possible. We are in the process of preparing a new education and awareness campaign for the residents of Portage County.
Attached (in the link below) is a news article that recently ran in Tacoma Washington that was sent to me by my counterpart. This is a very good indicator of what is happening as a result of the initiatives in the newest Environmental policies in China. Prior to January 2018, the U.S. contributed 40% of all recyclable material processed in China. With their reduction in allowable contaminants and recent ban on mixed plastics and mixed paper, the processing centers throughout North America are struggling to clean up the material collected from many curbside programs as well as continuing to find markets that will accept it.
This message has become our reality.