WAYNE COUNTY, OHIO, Sept. 13, 2022 — Recycling Contamination is a huge issue. Recycling contamination happens when non-recyclable and dirty materials end up in your recycling stream. When recyclables are contaminated, they cannot be recycled and are sent to landfills as trash. Wish-cycling adds garbage, food waste, and hazardous materials into the recycling stream. Just because an item has a recycling symbol does not mean it belongs in your recycling bin. For example, although plastic bags have a recycling symbol, they are not accepted in curbside recycling programs. Bags get tangled in the recycling center's sorting machines, causing problems for the recycling process and sometimes injuring workers.
Most of the recyclables collected were shipped overseas. In 2018, the Chinese government decided they wanted to implement new strict standards on imported recyclable material. The material collected was dirty and contaminated with non-recyclable material, basically trash. The new regulations basically shut down the export of recyclable plastic and fiber materials. Recycling companies in the US are being forced to sell recyclable material at extremely low prices, or even put recycled material into storage and wait for the return of a better recycling market. Sorting materials is not as convenient as single-stream recycling. While it may not be easy, it is the best way to avoid contamination. Make sure you take the time to rinse out your plastic bottles, glass containers, and metal cans.
The good news is that recycling contamination can be reduced, and businesses can maintain the value of their recycling and control rising waste and recycling costs.