Recycling Is In Trouble. Here’s A Solution

Compressed use plastic bottles ready for recycling

Here’s A Solution To The Recycling Trouble In The U.S.

For years China purchased recyclables from countries, like the United States. This arrangement worked great. The U.S. was able to get rid of recyclables and China was able to use these materials to manufacture new items. All of that has changed. Now many cities and municipalities are trying to find ways to deal with the buildup of recyclables. Learn more and find out what you and your municipality can do to help!

Managing the Wastestream

In late 2017 China placed restrictions on what materials they would accept when purchasing recyclables. Not long after, in 2018, China placed on a ban on certain types of plastics and loose paper, meaning these items were no longer accepted into the country. China has also established high standards on the items they will accept. Contamination, like when recyclables are not properly sorted, is a major factor. China will not accept contaminated items.

This entire turn of events has had a major impact on the waste management industry in the U.S., as well as other countries that also sold recyclables to China. Many of these municipalities are looking for other markets to sell recyclables.

Other buyers have stepped up, like Indonesia, India and other mostly Asian countries. However, the demand just isn’t keeping up with the number of recyclables being generated. When a market cannot be found, municipalities are finding alternate solutions, like landfilling and incinerating recyclables.

Trying to Do the Right Thing

At this time, it’s sometimes less expensive to burn recyclables since there are no buyers lining up to purchase items. Local governments want to do the right thing environmentally; however, financial responsibility is also a guiding factor. Officials may want to recycle, but they also need to make the best use of the resources available.

Searching for Better Solutions

After decades of outreach and educational campaigns, Americans are getting better at recycling. There is still room for improvement, but overall, more items are correctly landing in recycling bins than ever before.

Efforts are being made to create domestic recycling solutions. Unfortunately, this takes time, so it will likely be a few years before recycling in the U.S. can meet the demand.

One Solution Is Education and Outreach

There are a variety of problems facing Americans when it comes to recycling. Individuals aren’t always sure what can and what cannot be recycled. This means some items end up in trashcans and landfills when they should be in the recycling bin. There are also instances when items are recycled, when the local system may be unable to accommodate these items.

Education is needed to help individuals understand more about recycling and the materials they should be recycling. It is apparent that earlier education and outreach programs designed to introduce and educate Americans about recycling have worked. This means most people are receptive to outreach and if they understand what they need to do, they will do it.

The Value of Information

If we can get a handle on recycling early in the process, when individuals are deciding whether to toss an item in the trash or the recycling bin, that will help the waste management industry. Reducing contamination increases the chances of being able to sell materials to China and other buyers, as well as processing at domestic facilities.

Reusable Recycling Bags Help the Cause

One method of educating Americans about recycling, particularly for residents of apartments and other types of multi-family dwellings, is through the use of reusable recycling bags. These bags simplify recycling in apartments and rentals by taking the place of the bulky bins commonly used in single-family homes.

Reusable recycling bags are completely customizable. The design of the bag can be altered, as well as the artwork printed on the bag. This is the perfect spot to include instructions about what can and what cannot be recycled as well as any instructions about how to prepare items for recycling. This is an opportunity to explain to tenants what your community will take in addition to other questions or concerns. You can also include a website or phone number tenants can use to learn more and find answers to any questions they may have.

Through educating Americans on how to properly recycle and reduce contamination, we can get on a path to improved recycling which will enable us to recycle more.

Learn More

Find out more on the current state of recycling by listening to the podcast, On Point, the episode, “Global Recycling Is A Dumpster Fire. Literally.” Several guests, including David Biderman, Executive Director of SWANA, explain the different perspectives and issues facing the recycling industry and municipalities.

We need to start better educating people around recycling and our reusable recycling bags are an answer. At Factory Direct Promos, we have been in the business of creating custom reusable products for almost 30 years. During this time we have developed a strong commitment to sustainability and serving our customers. To this end, we’ve racked up a variety of honors and distinctions, including GOTS, Fairtrade, ISO 9001-2015, and FEDEX.

Whether you want to order a few hundred units or several thousand we are here to help. Reach out to learn more!


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