Jun 6, 2018

New China policies spark disarray in recycling industry - “This is an international crisis. We just can’t absorb these costs.”

Buried in the mountains of refuse at Casella's recycling plant in Charlestown are tons of material that should have gone straight to the landfill — from tires and pots to lobster buoys and garden hoses — items that can gum up the machines and taint the byproducts ultimately sold as commodities.

The increasing amount of such non-recyclable waste entering processing plants has sparked a backlash in the countries that convert the material into useful products, most notably China, which used to process the vast majority of US recyclables before it cracked down on what materials it would accept this year.

...Since the new policy went into effect on Jan. 1, US exports of recyclable material to China have plunged.

Now, with 400 tons of new material coming in every day — only about half of which they can recycle 

....With the rise of single-stream recycling, many residents have become less conscientious about what they deposit in recycling bins, with everything from bowling balls to Christmas lights fouling up the machines at sorting plants, 

In Braintree, where the cost of recycling has risen from about $4 a ton last year to $47, local officials are worried about what will happen in the coming months.

"It's already having a big impact, but it keeps going up," said Rosemary Nolan, the town's solid waste and recycling coordinator. 
"We've been told it could go up to $200 a ton."

If the costs continue to rise, she worries the town may have to cut other services, such as education or transportation projects.

"It's insane what has happened," he said. "This is an international crisis. We just can't absorb these costs."

Read full by David Abel 

Follow him on Twitter @davabel

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