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More recyclable materials could be headed to landfills

More recyclable materials could be headed to landfills.

Posted: Nov. 1, 2017 11:20 PM
Updated: Nov. 7, 2017 4:40 PM

ACROSS SOUTHERN OREGON-- More recyclable materials could be headed to landfills.

This is due to what the DEQ is calling a major market disruption across the world.

China will no longer be accepting recycled plastic or unsorted paper in 2018.

Brian Fuller with the DEQ says, "It's not just an Oregon, west coast, it’s a worldwide impact."

Starting in a couple days, all of Southern Oregon Sanitation's depots will no longer accept paper or plastic.

But that will only make a small dent in a big issue.
SOS General Manager Trent Carpenter says, "They basically said we are tired of getting all the garbage from the United States."

The world’s largest recycling buyer, China, says it was getting material with high levels of contamination, forcing mills with imported materials to close from being polluted, and creating hazards.

China began its Sword campaign in March this year, but next year serious changes go into effect
they will be banning importation of paper and plastic.

SOS will keep their curbside programs the same, programs that serve over 16,000 households in Jackson and Josephine counties.

But SOS, along with most collection companies in Jackson and Josephine counties have applied for a conditional material handling concurrence with the DEQ.

When needed, will be allowed to dispose of recyclable material in the landfill when there is no viable recycle market for the material-- which right now is the case.

SOS General Manager Trent Carpenter says, "Anything to do with plastic and with mixed paper has pretty much decreased where we can't find markets."

In Southern Oregon the contamination rate is typically 5%, but China says now there can be no more than 1% contamination.

SOS General Manager Trent Carpenter says, "Contamination and wishful recycling is a major issue here in Southern Oregon. That's the idea that no matter what I put into my recycle cart someone will recycle it even though it’s not a material a facility can take, and that has contributed to a high contamination rate."

Brian Fuller with the DEQ says, "And so the processing facilities are slowing their process lines down to remove things people put in their recycling bins that they shouldn't, at the same time Oregonians are putting their carts out everything, creating a backup in the system."

The Oregon DEQ says its working with other agencies to find long term solutions to the new market conditions.

Consumers should still recycle according to the DEQ, but do so thoughtfully, putting the right items in the recycling.

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