For decades, more than 70% of the world’s recycling was processed in China. As you may have heard, in 2018, China cut nearly all imports of plastic to their country to accommodate some of their own growing environmental problems such as underdeveloped waste management systems in their own country. To adjust, recyclers began shipping some of this plastic to other developing countries, but most don’t have the capacity to deal with the 7 million tons of plastic waste that is shipped overseas annually. The result? The United States is left with a whole bunch of plastic waste and nowhere to send it to have it recycled.
Because of this, the company who processes Cache County’s recycling can no longer find a market for plastics #3-7 which means that, effective immediately, we can no longer accept plastics #3-#7 in our mixed recycling containers.
The good news is that we can still accept rinsed plastic containers numbered 1 or 2 that once held a liquid (or food item like peanut butter & mayonnaise). Most of plastics that you will find in your home are ones and twos. Examples of these plastics include empty and rinsed soda, juice & water bottles, cooking oil containers, peanut butter & mayonnaise containers, salad dressing containers, milk jugs, cleaning agents, some laundry detergents, bleaching agents, shampoo bottles, and soap containers.
The other common type of household plastic is #5 which we will no longer accept in the mixed recycling program. This includes items such as yogurt cups, sour cream and cottage cheese containers, margarine and butter containers, clamshells, plastic cups, and more. As always, we stress that plastic bags of all types do not belong in the curbside recycling containers.
We understand that this is likely a frustrating change for many of our residents as we have all grown to appreciate the diverse recycling options in Cache County. But the reality is that plastics recycling is “broken” in the United States and this trend is nationwide, not just local. We expect that the plastics and recycling industries in the United States are working on ways to find alternatives for plastics 3-7, but it is unknown how long it will take to make these changes. Now is the perfect time for residents to evaluate their purchasing options to look for items packaged in plastic containers numbered 1 and 2 only.
In the meantime, we ask that residents take care to only put #1 & #2 plastics in their curbside recycling containers along with paper, cardboard, and metal. Because of the challenges the recycling industry is facing it is more important than ever to be mindful of what you place your recycling container. If you should have questions, please feel free to call our office at 435-716-9755 or email Conservation Coordinator Emily Malik at emily.malik.
We appreciate your patience and cooperation as we move forward on this new recycling journey together.