Recycling seems easy Until it’s not Most of us at some point have thrown something in the recycling bin hoping it’s recyclable and if it’s not There’s only one back-up plan. So why would our recycling end up in a landfill? Recycling looks easy – from the curb. We put stuff in a bin the truck picks it all up and it all gets recycled, right? But where does it go when it leaves the curb? That big jumble of stuff has to be sorted in places like this.
Here workers grab things that aren’t recyclable and throw them in the trash What kinds of things they’re grabbing depends on where you live. Many places can’t recycle plastic bags, coffee cups, or styrofoam. So you can put them in your recycling bin, but they’ll still end up in the trash. To make money recycling companies have to take our piles of recycling and sort it into materials they can sell.
The paper buyers don’t want any plastic. The plastic buyers don’t want any paper. Nobody wants paper or plastic that’s covered in food waste. And the sorting process is far from perfect. But until recently we still had buyers for contaminated recyclables. “There were Chinese buyers out there who were willing to buy it, paying high prices for material that honestly had a lot of contamination in it, a lot of things that shouldn’t have been in there.” The US produces about a hundred and thirty million tons of recycling a year and we can’t reuse all of it here. About a third of it is sold to buyers overseas.
And of that nearly half was going to China But not anymore. : ‘Now they’re cutting off, and they’re trying to clean up, so they don’t want to take our garbage anymore. Countries do not want to be a dumping ground for the rest of the world.” Starting this year China has new rules the only buy recycling with 0.5% contamination or less. That’s like one empty paper towel roll mixed in with 200 plastic bottles. Which brings us to… Without Chinese buyers, some of our recycling has nowhere to go.