The cost of recycling

China has stopped accepting some recyclables from the United States, and that’s trickling down to a rate increase for solid waste authorities across the country.

Posted: May. 22, 2018 5:48 PM
Updated: May. 23, 2018 1:43 PM

The market for scrap paper and plastics is collapsing, and many recycling facilities across the country are having to send the recyclables to a landfill, or pass the cost down to the consumer. Now that China isn’t accepting U.S. recyclables, haulers are scrambling to find new markets.

Jamie Tuttle is a recycling educator at The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority. She tells us that’s not the case here.

"We can stand the ups and downs of the recycling market," Tuttle said. "We’re set up so that we will recycle something even if we’re not getting paid for it."

That’s because this facility is unique in that it’s the first landfill in the country to be issued flow control. Flow control basically keeps the flow of all garbage in Oneida and Herkimer contained to this facility, and keeps all other garbage out.

"Because we own and operate all of our facilities and have control of that, we’re able to regulate the whole system through that system tipping fee for garbage," Tuttle said.

The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority is contracting out our recyclables to companies in India, and that’s also contributing to keeping costs down.

"So if this weren’t going to a market, where would all this end up? If we didn’t have a place to send it for recycling, it would go to the landfill, but because we do, we’re able to recover all of this and keep it out of our regional landfill saving that much space every day."

China is currently rejecting all fiber products which make up over half of the recycling stream. While this may be costing people across the country money for tipping fees, locally it’s a different story.

"Even at making no money off our fiber, like I said our other revenues are offsetting that cost, and as far as having to raise tipping fees, our recycling revenue, we’re set up so that even if all the markets were to crash, we’re still able to sustain our current system."

If you have any questions about whether something is recyclable, you can find all your answers at amirecyclable.com.

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