Has China Really Ended Recycling? No!

recycling bales

The news media has been flooded with stories recently about how China has stopped accepting recycling from the U.S. Headlines are declaring the end of recycling. But is that really true? Fortunately, no. We’re here to set the record straight.

Just because China isn’t recycling many of our materials anymore doesn’t mean our materials aren’t being recycled.

What Really Happened

The Chinese government began limiting what recyclable materials would be accepted years ago, so no one was all that surprised when they wanted to set even stricter rules. China is simply moving toward a long-term goal to eliminate recycling imports.

Why? First, as the Chinese economy has grown, the country is now generating enough of its own recyclables that they don’t really need ours anymore. Second, we historically were shipping materials that were neither clean nor well-sorted, so our low-quality shipments were getting too expensive to process.

What Does the China Ban Mean for Us?

Recycling isn’t dead, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. The materials you put in your recycling are still making their way to facilities where they can be processed and recycled into new products and packaging.

What’s the difference? Now more of your recycling is being sold through local markets instead of international ones. This is actually a great shift for us, because we can invest in our own recycling economy and keep a closer eye on what happens to our valuable materials.

Here’s how you can help.

Recycle the Right Way Instead of the Wishful Way

The companies that buy recyclables only want clean materials. Often there can be many items that don’t belong in a shipment — think diapers in the plastics, or greasy pizza boxes in the clean paper. Contamination like this can ruin entire batches of material in the manufacturing process. So throwing the wrong thing in the recycling can result in an entire container getting rejected and shipped back across the ocean, or the state, just to end up in the landfill anyway.

Believe it or not, you play a huge role in making sure that recycling gets processed correctly and turned back into raw materials. It’s up to you to keep our recycling clean so that manufacturers will accept it and complete the cycle of turning your trash back into treasure.

Recycle the materials that belong in the recycling, and nothing else. When in doubt, throw it out! Or better yet, look it up in our searchable Recycling Guide. By recycling correctly, you’ll give our raw materials new value and new life.