Recycling advocates in McLean County say their industry is not in crisis, despite some media reports to the contrary.
Ecology Action Center Director Michael Brown said China's ban on accepting recycling materials from the United States has led some to mistakenly think their materials won't get recycled.
“I hear rumors of this and see signs of reduced confidence, even here locally, in our programs and people wondering if our materials here are being landfilled,” Brown said.
Brown said recycling companies would spend more money on landfill fees if they simply trashed their recyclables.
“It quite simply doesn’t make economic sense for your local recyclers to take the time to collect, segregate and transport these materials for processing and then only to landfill them in the end,” Brown said.
Brown added it’s too soon to say whether recycling habits have changed in response to these media reports.
Brown acknowledged, however, recycling companies are seeing more contaminated materials, which takes more staff and more time to process.
Area Disposal Service is phasing out glass as an acceptable material for recycling, saying it adds costs and wear and tear on sorting equipment.
Ecology Action Center took part in a statewide anti-contamination initiative last year to educate the public on what materials are considered contaminated.
“The new message clearly illustrates what materials are acceptable in curbside recycling programs,” Brown said. “Anything that is not shown as acceptable is now unacceptable. We need to err on the side of caution to reduce the contamination rates sufficiently.”
The center has a flier poster on its website that specifies which materials are acceptable for recycling.
WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in Central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.