Could This Be The End Of Recycling?

David Trammel's picture

China has announced it will no longer accept America's trash.

People seem to forget that to make recycling work, someone has to buy all that trash. China accounts for a huge share of the recycling output. Now, with short notice they are saying we don't want to be the World's trash heap.

We could see alot of the plastic bottles and cans we put in the separate bin, now sent to the nearby trash pit, instead of recycled.

Magpie's picture

This issue has been big for New Zealand and Australia, who export a larger percentage of their recyclables to China than the US. Lots of stuff is no longer accepted at all and Sydney had to divert a huge amount of recyclables to the landfill. The small city I live in was not affected as it only recycled paper, metal, glass, and plastics 1 & 2 (which have a local market).

I am very glad that I have been able to reduce my personal trash to one plastic grocery bag equivalent every three months, even with the tight restrictions on recyclables.

In India they are paving the roads with recycled plastic

Where I live in Sweet Home, OR this is causing a big problem. Where, just a year ago, the city used to get $30/ton for it's recycling, they're now having to pay $118/ton to get rid of it. That's an additional $148/ton they have to deal with. Yet people are griping that the cost of their garbage pickup is increasing. They're exploring just sending it to a new nearby landfill instead. Unfortunately, what's been called recycling has actually been just exporting our trash to somewhere else.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I've already been wondering whether my city still has a place to send plastic, as I read about China's refusals a couple months ago. The recycling dumpsters in my alley have not been picked up in more than a week. They are so full now that they cannot be collected by machine only. JMG had mentioned that you sure would not want to be stuck with a lot of plastic when trash/recycling collection comes to an end, and I have been imagining what people will do with all the plastic that comes into their homes-- not a happy thing to imagine.