Changes on the horizon for recycling in Douglas County

21 Jan 2018

Sunrise Entreprises recycle manager Steve Buckley. Photo by Michael SullivanArticle from the Roseburg News Review; Photo taken by Michael Sullivan.

Emily Hoard, reporter for the Roseburg News Review, reports on impacts from the National Sword on area recyclers.

Douglas County recycling companies are still accepting paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastics and glass — for now.

But as the cost of recycling rises due to tighter restrictions, those items might be headed for a landfill in the near future. As of now, the local disposal companies are just paying more to be able to keep recycling.

Roseburg Disposal Co., Sutherlin Sanitary Service and other companies collect recycling from residents throughout the county and bring it to Sunrise Enterprises. Sunrise then ships it to processors in Portland and Washington that sort the material. These processors sell some of the materials domestically, like paper and cardboard, while they ship most of them to China.

However, China recently banned imports of 24 kinds of solid wastes it deems hazardous. The country has begun turning away entire shipments of recyclables because too many non-recyclable materials are mixed in.

Dori John, general manager of Roseburg Disposal Co. said China’s rule changes have significantly affected the recycling industry in Douglas County, and the entire U.S.

“It’s really a crisis because we’re running into no way to get rid of the recycling once it’s collected,” John said. “Right now we’re paying considerably more per ton to have materials recycled than we are to landfill it, which we can only sustain for a short amount of time.”

Over the last two months, Sunrise Enterprises has had to pay a great deal to ship the same materials that were once cost-neutral, according to CEO Shane Kalar.

The market fluctuates, but as of Friday, it costs $115 per ton to send recyclable materials to the processors, which is $42 per ton more than the $73 per ton price to take the same materials to the landfill.