Recycling in U.S. is becoming more expensive, due to China and ‘dirty’ recycling

The global waste management market is shifting and the change is beginning to negatively impact the recycling industry in the United States. In Maine, a town in Hancock County plans to stop curbside recycling on Sept. 1, following a steep rise in the costs associated with the program. While some of the rising costs are associated with China’s ban on 24 waste items from the U.S. and other countries, some costs are due to so-called “dirty” recycling practices by consumers: items in the recycling stream that either cannot be recycled or are too expensive to clean and resell for profit.

Amy Brooks, a doctoral student in the New Materials Institute who co-authored a recent study on China’s ban of plastic imports, says that waste managers will have to seek new markets and solutions that can help mitigate the rising costs of recycling.

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