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China's Through Taking Your Garbage...Which Means Pains For Recyclers

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Mark
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Douglas County says it has a recycling crisis. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, that’s the status of every municipality contending with so-called “wishful recycling.”

It’s been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. In this case, it’s people throwing things into the recycling bin that they’re not sure is recyclable…but maybe could be recyclable. This includes garden hoses, spoiled food, and even used diapers. 

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Is it recyclable, or just junk? Waste management coordinators are urging people to read up on their local rules and ordinances to know better, following China's restrictions earlier this year.

Tonya Osborne, of Douglas County Crisis Communications, says that over time turned off the West Coast’s biggest customer.

“China…who used to buy the bulk of recycling products, they were getting recyclable stuff that was contaminated with other things that were not recyclable, or in other terms, garbage.”

China has since set contamination limits for recycling that are hard to achieve.

Lane County’s Waste Reduction Specialist, Sarah Grimm, says many communities are changing their programs.

"We’re seeing a backlog, we’re seeing a slowdown," says Grimm. "But so far I’ve not heard of any need to dispose of collected recycling, which we fear might have to happen at some point.”

Grimm says consumers can help by purchasing reusable items.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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