China Recycling Ban Stresses US Recyclers

Public Radio International (PRI) article (2018-01-01) discussed local government impacts on China’s recent restrictions on the importation of foreign recyclables. As previously reported on Conduit Street, China has instituted strict new contamination limits and bans on certain types foreign recycled materials effective January 1, 2018. The policy, dubbed “National Sword,” affects local governments throughout the United States as China is a major importer of their recyclable materials. From the article:

“We’re looking at 150 to 200 tractor trailer loads of paper. It’s stacked approximately 12 feet high, and it goes for quite a distance,” says Ben Harvey, president of E.L. Harvey & Sons, a family-run business since 1911. …

Harvey can’t sell the 2,000-pound bales to China because the contamination levels — the trash that’s accidentally mixed in, something like the remnants of a greasy pizza box that gets thrown in with the recycling — almost certainly exceed China’s rigorous new standards. …

“This is not a little disruption,” says Susan Collins, president of the Container Recycling Institute, a research organization based in Southern California. “This is a big disruption to a bigger industry than most people would think it is, because it’s sort of an invisible process. You put your stuff out at the curb, and it goes away — nobody thinks about it as being a multibillion industry in this country.” …

Collins says US recyclers are willing to adjust, but they need time.

The article stated that until recycling processing facilities can be developed in the United States (a 3-5 year process) many recycling programs may have to either refuse to accept materials such as paper, cans or bottles or dispose them in landfills.

 

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Prior Conduit Street Coverage of China Recycling Changes