Policy Changes In China Might Affect Recycling Locally

Jun 26, 2018

As China is accepting less recycling items from the U.S. the cost of recycling has increased. So much so that some areas in the U.S., are considering cutting curbside recycling.

Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District that serves Salt Lake County is one of those that is seriously considering getting rid of curbside recycling.

Summit County Solid Waste Superintendent Tim Loveday says the county will still be able to provide curbside recycling, at least for now.

“It is something that is a potential, right now we’re going to be able to continue (offering curbside recycling). The costs are going up, but we’re going to continuing offering that for the foreseeable future.” Tim Loveday explained that decisions from the Intermountain based company that takes summit’s recyclable materials could ultimately decide the future of curbside recycling.

“Rocky Mountain Recycling is where our material ultimately ends up, will they keep taking the curbside as is or will they start limiting the types of plastics that can be put into the can? If they start limiting the types of plastics things may change, right now we’re watching it closely but we’re still good to go.”

Carolyn Wawra is the executive director of Recycle Utah. She says that the sorting aspect of recycling is one reason why curbside is more expensive.

“It’s all intermixed materials and that’s where they have to get someone to sort it out.” Wawra explains “Given the markets the way they are, that’s making things really tricky.”

Recycle Utah is able to remain competitive in part because the recyclers in Park City are sorting properly.'

“We’re able to be a little bit more competitive, even given the tricky prices because we have such great sorters in Park City” Wawra explains, “The prices that we get for products aren’t good and some products we even have to pay to get recycled. Right now, we’re paying to get our plastics recycled, and that’s a new thing that hasn’t happened here in a long, long time. The price of cardboard is as bad as it’s been since 2008.”

Wawra recognizes that Park City can be affected by global trends outside of their control “The market changes a lot; Park City is a tiny, tiny player in this global market and a lot of things are out of our control”

The dropping prices of commodities have been an issue for Recycle Utah since December.

“We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do not because its financially profitable for us”