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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Today, some not-sogood news, but also a little somewhat good news. I’ll start with the non-so-good news. I saw on the news the other day that more and more of our cities are having a hard time justifying recycling. One of the biggest problems now is finding a profitable market for many of the recycled items.

When China, which took much of our recycled materials at a reasonable price, put restrictions on what they would take, it greatly reduced our exports of recycling items to them. Now, from a recent article in Resource Recycling newsletter, I expect the sale of recycled items to them will be reduced to almost zero.

“Chinese officials doubled down on plans to ban virtually all recovered material imports by the end of the year, despite opposition from U.S. interests.”

This plan was developed by China last summer.

After there was some talk about China backing off a little on their plan, the head of their solid waste and chemical management department of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment stated: “China will not relax the ban, but will carry it forward.”

When our U.S. delegation asked China to closer define what they mean by waste as opposed to recyclable materials, China came up with the following answer: “Raw materials generated from harmless processing of solid waste will not be classified as solid waste if they meet China’s national quality standard and don’t pose risks to public health or ecological safety.”

However, another spokesperson said that China will “basically realize the target of zero solid waste imports by 2020.”The only real exception will be for recycled materials that China does not have in country and has no available substitute. Although the above news isn't very positive, please continue to recycle as markets will be found for it – plus it's the right thing to do.

Enough about that, now for some better news. We find that Texas' fourth largest city, Houston, with population of roughly 2.3 million, will again be taking glass in their curbside recycling program.

Glass was stopped in the curbside program about three years ago. The not-too-happy citizens were encouraged to take the glass to a drop-off site instead.

Glass curbside recycling was enabled by the opening of a city-owned materials recovery facility (MRF) with a glass cleanup system. The new system, constructed by a Spanish company with solid waste and utility facilities around the world, has a capacity of 145,000 tons per year.

Till next time, do have an enjoyable and one…

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Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or email omaier@txstate.edu .