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Douglas County Landfill Suspends Recycling as Chinese Recyclable Market Dries Up

Time:2018-05-31 21:38 Author:Suny Group

 A Chinese ban on plastics recyclables, along with bottlenecks in the supply chain for plastics and other recyclables, have led to a nationwide crisis in recycling that’s about to reach your local landfill and garbage hauling service.

Effective June 1, recycling company Sunrise Enterprises will suspend all recycling of plastic and paper in the county. And the county landfill and transfer stations will stop taking plastic, along with newspaper, paper, glass and cardboard on that date.

The landfill will continue to accept yard and wood debris for composting and the Roseburg Transfer Station will continue to accept tin, aluminum, batteries, oil and appliances.

Soda bottles and other items covered by the Oregon bottle bill can still be turned in at local grocery stores and at the Bottle Drop redemption center in Roseburg.

Sunrise Enterprises CEO Shane Kalar said this isn’t just a local problem, and the issue is much bigger than a decision by the Douglas County commissioners.

China is the biggest importer of plastic recyclables in the world. Ultimately, that’s where most of the plastic turned in by Douglas County residents has been sent, after first being shipped to processors in Portland and Washington that sort all the recycling material.

China has given up on taking plastic recyclables, primarily because Americans have been sending them what they call “dirty” plastic.

The root of the problem is that Americans have been contaminating their recyclables by turning in types of plastic China hasn’t been accepting for a long time, mixed in with the few types of plastics they do accept, Kalar explained. Sunrise had asked customers back in 2013 to stop turning in plastics labeled any number other than 1 or 2, because they couldn’t sell the rest anymore.

Here and other places around the country, people kept on turning in the wrong plastics, though, and that’s what makes the recyclables “dirty,” Kalar said. He calls that “hopeful recycling.”

“They don’t know what symbol it is, but it’s plastic and so they put it in there, hoping that it’s recyclable. That is actually the contaminants that really do the damage,” he said.

The county faces similar problems to the plastic issue with other types of recyclables. People who turn in cans with food left inside or collected into plastic bags have contaminated the supply, and glass recycling is plagued by an oversupply that means counties have had to pay recycling companies to take them and in many cases cannot find a company to take them at all.

The Douglas County Public Works Department Thursday afternoon issued a press release asking county residents to dispose of recyclables at the landfill and transfer stations as refuse, along with other household waste. But they said they encourage citizens to continue separating recycling from garbage, in hopes this will be a temporary situation. They are urging residents to check with their local waste disposal company to find out what changes they plan to make for handling recyclables.

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