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New restrictions to plastics recycling

Submitted by the Lopez Solid Waste District

The Lopez Solid Waste District regrets to inform the community of new restrictions on plastics recycling at the Lopez dump. Mixed plastics no. 1-7, plastic bags and film, and agricultural plastics are no longer able to be recycled by LSWDD.

Plastics still accepted are no. 1 clear or lightly tinted bottles and jars (screw top lid), no. 2 cloudy bottles and jugs (screw top lid), and no. 2 colored bottles and jars (screw top lid). They must be clean and sorted.

Skagit River Steel and Recycling has been stockpiling shipments of these materials over the past several months in hopes of a market opening up to receive them. It has not found any buyers further down the supply chain and must stop accepting them as recycling from us at this time. Most other recycling buyers are in the same position, unfortunately.

As a convenience and learning opportunity for our recycling customers, we will continue to accept these plastics at the usual location in the recycling plaza until July 2018. However, they will be deposited into the garbage dumpsters by staff daily. Please note this and make every effort to reduce consumption of these plastics or begin placing these specific recyclables into your garbage at home. Mixed plastics nos. 1–7, plastic bags and film, and agricultural plastics are now garbage until you hear otherwise.

Mixed plastics include molded plastics, clamshells, tubs and darkly tinted no. 1 bottles. A no. 2 yogurt container or ice cream tub is not a bottle with a screw top lid so it is no longer accepted for recycling. It’s the same molecule as a no. 2 cloudy milk jug or colored detergent jug but because it is not a bottle it is not accepted.

In 2017, China announced

that it would stop accepting global shipments of many low-grade plastics, metals and mixed paper. LSWDD provides very clean, sorted streams of materials so only our lowest grade plastics are being affected at this time. Treating plastics as garbage instead of recycling is predicted to get worse before it gets better around the U.S. LSWDD plans to leave these plastics receptacles in place in the recycling plaza until July 2018 in hopes that a solution is found by that time.

We continue to monitor the global recycling situation very closely in hopes of new buyers and processors opening up with a larger capacity. We are also analyzing options for processing some volume of plastics on site, such as with our Re-Make Lab or a larger application using similar technology. As always, achieving Zero Waste starts with consumers, so please be conscious of your purchasing options and make any adjustments possible to keep this new stream of garbage out of landfills. We encourage you to contact purveyors of products sold only in plastics about your concerns. There is also the option of returning plastic containers to the original purveyors of the products. An educated, active public can and will make the difference.

Published in Islands Weekly, January 7, 2018.


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