[This post was first published in September 2019 and has been updated and revised.]
Recycling is a great practice and should be a regular part of every household and business. However, there are growing challenges in the recycling industry.
We've been promoting recycling as a nation for over 50 years now. Today, recycling bins and facilities are the norm in most communities across the country. But now, so are gluts of recyclable materials.
Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose
It seems simple enough to most of us: we simply put our recyclable trash and junk into the proper containers and it all gets efficiently recycled.
Not so much. The process is far more complicated than it appears to most of us. Because recycling is accomplished largely by private enterprise, which means that the process must be profitable in order to be viable.
And this isn't always the case.
China’s booming economy has long been in need of raw materials. And it was more profitable to sell and ship our plastic and paper across the Pacific Ocean than to keep it here in the U.S. But no too long ago, China issued a ban on our recyclable trash imports, known as National Sword, and that created major issues in the industry.
As one post noted,
The ban went into effect in March 2018. Five years ago in July, the Chinese government announced a potential ban on imports of 24 different recyclables. The list included paper and plastics, the heart of curbside recycling programs. Government officials described these materials as “waste”.
That action has created a glut of recyclable waste products here in the United States as well as in other nations who were accustomed to shipping massive quantities of excess waste products to China.
And the fallout has not been pretty!
An article in the Mercury News noted,
Until recently, almost all of our vast piles of plastic and paper refuse were sold and shipped overseas, promising a new life for much of what we so blithely tossed away.
Now much is rejected as wet, dirty or worthless – a reversal that has turned our once-reliable recycling world upside down, as prices plummet and the cost of cleanup soars.
As a result, California’s once-proud recycling reputation is in a tailspin. About 35 million tons of garbage were dumped into landfills in 2016, up from 29.3 million tons in 2012. Recycling rates have fallen from 50 percent to 44 percent. The state’s goal of reaching a 75 percent recycling rate by next year is slipping further away.
In fact, one study from the University of Buffalo in New York found that the quantity of plastic landfilled in the U.S. increased by 23.2% following the implementation of National Sword.
And the study's project director was quoted as saying that,
The study shows that following China’s National Sword policy, the amount of plastic recycled in the U.S. has significantly declined. Meanwhile, the amount of plastic that is landfilled in the U.S has increased. This underlines the importance of improving domestic plastic recyclability, recycling rates and reducing contamination.
However, we've made subsequent shifts in the recycling industry since in the four years since China's disruptive ban and many other waster products continue to be recycled as before.
Plastic May Be Problematic But Recycling is Improving in the U.S.
All is not hopeless when it comes to plastic recycling however.
For example, a new process has been developed that promises to eliminate the need for sorting different types of plastic and the challenge of multi-layer packaging.
The process was developed jointly by Oregon State University researchers and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It will enable the recycling of a mixture of different plastics made in varied shapes, sizes, and types into a single new plastic.
On the other hand, our progress with recycling or reusing waste products is a mixed bag, so to speak.
One waste removal company noted in a report that,
In terms of actual waste that is being recycled or composted today, the US is achieving mixed results. Some items like batteries, cardboard, food containers, and the like – the US is achieving substantial results, with over 50% of the waste streams being recycled. However, when looking at the flipside, the US is faring incredibly poorly in other categories. Clothing, furniture, food waste, and small appliances have very low recycle rates.
Here's an infographic we've created to illustrate the most common types of recycling in the U.S.
It is now even more urgent for households and businesses to find more ways to reuse or repurpose as much of the junk and debris they might normally hope to recycle. In addition to reducing consumption, being more strategic in how and what we purchase can reduce paper and plastic waste.
Another prospect is the pursuit of manufacturers for more eco-friendly and minimalist containers and packaging for their products. There has been a strong and growing push socially to reduce consumerism in general and to focus on supporting manufacturers who use recyclable packaging and "green" production processes.
Ultimately, reducing all waste, including recyclable waste, from the start of the consumer cycle will be a significant step in salvaging the recycling industry in America.
There is Another Option For Your Junk Disposal
After you’ve attempted to repurpose, sell, or donate your unwanted items, you may still have some things to be gotten rid of.
So, what do you do with them?
A great option is to have Junk King take care of your leftover junk and unwanted stuff. In fact, we can help with a wide variety of removal and hauling tasks:
- Hauling services for large and bulky amounts of junk.
- House cleanouts for moving, spring cleaning, converting rooms, or just getting a clean slate.
- Property clean outs for landlords, real estate agents, or inherited homes full of old belongings.
- Trash removal for yard waste, construction projects, and cleaning projects
Our professional junk removal services offer easy and affordable solutions for getting rid of your clutter and hauling away your unwanted junk.
Having an experienced junk removal company that you can depend on matters. And this is what you get with Junk King. We provide professional experts who know how to safely and carefully remove even the biggest, bulkiest, heaviest items.
Professional Green Junk Removal
Your junk removal partners at Junk King provide efficient, safe and eco-friendly waste disposal services so you don’t need to worry about pick up and green junk removal.
And this usually means junk recycling.
Whether you need our services several times during a clean-up project or just once after it's complete, our hauling professionals will ensure that your business junk is out of your way so that you can get on with the job.
In fact, our team specializes in green junk removal.
We can be at your home or office in mere minutes, so call us today! Our crew is fully insured and well-trained, so you can trust them to get rid of your unwanted items in a professional and courteous fashion.
One of the best things about hiring Junk King is that we recycle a much of the material we pick-up. This is proof of our commitment to being an eco-friendly removal service. If you have questions about what we do or what we believe, give us a call at 1-888-888-JUNK (5865).