Recycling, Contamination, and China

China’s new import policies are just one reason to start focusing on avoiding contamination in our recycling bins. High contamination levels mean recyclables are rejected and don’t sell. The new 5% contamination requirements set by China are tough, but they are also a wakeup call for recyclers. Today, because of contamination levels, many cities that used to get paid for their recycling are now paying processing facilities to get rid of it.

Recycling contamination can be caused by many things, like filling the bin with items that can’t be recycled through your local hauler, food particles that grow mold or attract bugs, and even water! What constitutes contamination in part is dependent upon what can be recycled locally. If your local hauler accepts only paper, plastic, and metal for recycling and you put your glass bottles in the recycling bin, you’ve contaminated the entire truckload of recycling! By introducing food particles and water into your recycling bin you can jeopardize the quality of paper and cardboard, a major player in the recycling industry. This can lower the quality of a batch of recycling, making it unsuitable for the market.

So what can you do?

  • Be in the know!! Visit our website and find your city to see what recyclables are accepted https://enviroperks.com/find-my-city/
  • Give your recyclables a quick rinse to remove food particles.
  • Make sure to empty water bottles, dry anything you rinse, and keep paper products separate because wet paper goes to the landfill.
  • Don’t bundle any of your recyclables in plastic bags which can break down the recycling process.

These simple steps can lead to real progress. Although it is great to adopt all recycling best practices, if you start with these you can make a huge impact on contamination levels.