Chinese Recycling Policy Induce Return to Local Recycling in New Jersey

Clean stream recycling is the name of the game in this era of Chinese restrictions on imported recyclable materials from the US. The town of 13,000 people reinstated dual stream after five-years of single stream recycling based on economics. “It was continually costing us more per ton to recycle single-stream throughout 2017,” Eugene MacMahon, Oakland, N.J.’s recycling coordinator, as a result of China’s policies.

The market downturn for Oakland’s 1,800 tons of recyclables in 2017 meant the borough paid more than $25,000 to move its single-stream recyclables, or an average of about $14 per ton. By January 2018, Oakland was paying $30 per ton to move material.

“If we stayed with single-stream, in April 2018 it would have cost us $40 per ton with no rebound in sight,” MacMahon said.

The town also moved to a once every two-week collection schedule. Dual-stream collection and its potential to produce cleaner bales has led a number of communities to discuss reversing course, including elsewhere in New Jersey. The concept came up at a meeting of county recycling coordinators and state officials earlier this month.

You can read the full article, Market disruption prompts switch to dual-stream by Colin Staub, Resource Recycling.

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.