The State of Global Recycling Markets
Recently, there has been a lot of media attention focused on changes happening in global recycling markets. For years, overseas markets paid higher prices for American scrap recycling. As a result, U.S. domestic recycling mills shut down, unable to compete in the global market.
Today, we find ourselves in a place where overseas markets are collapsing. China, previously the world’s largest importer of recyclables, recently shut their door and are no longer accepting foreign scrap. Other Asian countries are predicted to follow in China's footsteps.
There is a great deal to be said about global recycling markets but for now, many residents are simply wondering:
- What is recyclable?
- Where is my recycling going?
- How do I recycle correctly?
What is Recyclable and Where is Going?
Determining which items are recyclable is critical to the entire recycling process. Although many items have a recycling symbol on them, not all of these items are recyclable in our region. Recycling Centers must collect enough material to attract buyers for the product. Recyclables like paper and cardboard are easy to manage as there is always a market for these materials. Sometimes their value is not great but at least domestic options are available.
At the Lebanon Recycling Center, we try hard to find markets for the waste products we see most. The recycling list in Lebanon includes paper; cardboard; aluminum cans, foil, and plates; steel cans; plastic bottles and containers, as well as glass. Check out our Recycling Page for more information about the items we take.
The two items we experience the most contamination with at the Lebanon Recycling Center are aluminum and plastic.
Aluminum is a non-ferrous metal used in beverage cans, some cat food cans, pie plates, and foil. Aluminum is a metal that will NOT stick to a magnet. Items we see in aluminum that are NOT recyclable include shiny potato chip bags, steel cans, small Coleman propane tanks, and aerosols cans. These items are NOT recyclable and must be disposed of in the landfill.
Plastic seems to be the recyclable that causes the most confusion. The Lebanon Recycling Center accepts plastics #1-#7 but there are some important distinctions with plastic recycling. The items accepted at our facility include only plastic bottles, jugs, tubs (yogurt and butter), and containers. Plastic items NOT accepted for recycling at the Lebanon Recycling Center include utensils, grocery bags, kiddie pools, sleds, garden hoses, plastic furniture, totes, gas cans, and plastic toys.
Help Us, Help You
When you take care to place only items that are recyclable in our bins, you are saving our staff the time and effort to “clean” them up before baling. If you are not sure if something is recyclable, please feel free to ask us. We are happy to help you!
More information about recycling can be found on the Lebanon Solid Waste website or you can email the Lebanon Solid Waste Manager with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.