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Beyond the Dumpster: China’s Changes on Recyclables Impacts US Industry

By July 18, 2018March 10th, 2020No Comments
Beyond the Dumpster: China’s Changes on Recyclables Impacts US Industry

Beyond the Dumpster: The Growing Trash Problem

When trash day comes, dumpster moving equipment makes the task more efficient. But how do you handle recyclable materials? Like most properties, you probably have them sorted in bins for curbside pickup.

That could all change due to new, stricter regulations not in the United States but in China, and they may have a serious impact on how, or even if, your recycled materials are processed.

China Refuses “Foreign Garbage”

China has long been a repository for recycled materials, primarily paper and plastic, that were exported from the U.S. In an effort to combat their own pollution problem, China instituted a ban on 24 materials that were previously accepted, effective as of January 1 of this year.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately one-third of the 66 million tons of recycling produced by Americans each year is exported, with most of it going to China. The new guidelines have recycling companies and material recovery facilities (MRFs) scrambling to come up with new options.

Not surprisingly, Western states have been hit hardest. In the Pacific Northwest, Republic Services, one of the country’s largest waste disposal companies, went from dumping almost no paper in 2017 to diverting more than 2,000 tons to landfills so far this year.

Coping with New Regulations

Some municipalities are simply refusing to accept banned materials, while other organizations are adapting some of the following alternatives:

– Exporting recycled materials to India, Vietnam and other Asian countries

– Stockpiling materials while searching for new processors

– Obtaining waivers to send paper and plastic to landfills

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