Plastic scrap stockpiles reportedly growing in Utah

Plastic scrap stockpiles reportedly growing in Utah

Municipally collected plastic, paper cited as being well-past contaminant thresholds.

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January 31, 2018
Edited by Brian Taylor
Municipal / IC&I Paper Plastics

With China refusing to accept most forms of mixed paper and plastic scrap, stockpiles of the material appear to be building up in parts of the United States.

An online report by Salt Lake City, Utah-based KUTV ties the ban into overflowing recyclables drop-off sites in the Beehive State.

Recycling officials in Utah contacted by the TV station indicates China’s ban is “taking a toll on facilities” in the state.

An Ogden resident who drops recyclables off at a collection point near a landfill says the recyclables used to be barely visible “lowlands,” but now they are “hills.”

A recycling plant operator, also in Ogden, says household residents and municipalities providing guidance must work together to create less contaminated or commingled collection bins and storage bunkers. “We don't have a way to clean out containers, so it’s really important that the containers are clean when they are brought to the recycling yard,” David Rawson of Recycled Earth told KUTV.

A town mayor quoted by the TV station noted that while China is asking for shipments of paper and plastic scrap with less than 1 percent contamination, collected materials in Utah can consist of anywhere from 15 to 40 percent contaminants.

The western United States may be feeling the effects of China’s bans and restrictions first among U.S. regions.

Earlier in January 2018, Phoenix-based Republic Services informed residents in Meridian, Idaho, that it would no longer accept Nos. 3 through 7 plastic packaging for recycling. In October 2017, Houston-based Waste Management indicated it would direct recyclables collected in parts of Washington State to inland locations rather than preparing them for Pacific Ocean shipment to China.

HDPE LDPE Mixed paper PET Polystyrene/PS Rigid plastics ocean shipping