The LeMay Inc. recycling center in Washington is shutting down its plastic film recycling program, citing a change in market demand.
KIROTV.com is reporting that as of Oct. 1, the facility in Thurston County, WA, will no longer accept plastic film (plastic grocery bags, plastic wrappers, plastic shrink wrap from other products) from commercial customers for recycling, according to the company’s district manager, Jeff Harwood. The county’s landfill will not accept plastic film from the public and is closing its plastic recycling container.
"The problem is we don't have a market for it," said Harwood.
In a related story, Waste & Recycling News reports that the Thurston County facility currently has 60 tons of plastic film on hand that it cannot sell. The 15 tons of plastic film collected there each month will now be sent to the landfill.
Both stories cite China’s Green Fence policy, which restricts the types of materials accepted there for recycling, as the reason for the change in demand. However, there was one strong statement about waste reduction.
"It's unfortunate, but recycling only works when someone can create a new product from old materials," said Terri Thomas, county solid waste reduction supervisor, in a statement. "Recycling is great -- we don't discourage it at all -- but it's not a magic cure. This is a good reminder about the importance of not generating waste in the first place."
A recycling center in Oregon stopped accepting plastic bags for recycling in July.
In the case of single-use plastic grocery bags, these stories illustrate the need for reduction at the source. In California, where about 13 billion single-use bags are distributed each year, only about 3 percent are actually being recycled. That means more than 12.5 billion bags are still being disposed. And even when properly disposed they are highly aerodynamic and easily transported into stormdrain systems, waterways and eventually the ocean. Plastic bag litter costs taxpayers millions on clean up and maintenance and it’s deadly to marine wildlife.
Find out more about plastic pollution and its associated costs.