According to an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality waste generation report, Klamath County recovered 24.3 percent of the 78,171 tons of waste it generated in 2017.
The report, released in December, breaks down “recovery rates” — percentage of waste recycled — by both county and the state as a whole. Klamath County fell below Oregon’s overall 42.8 percent rate, but according to local and state waste experts, Klamath did well despite geographic and economic and barriers.
How scrap from California ended up in a junkyard 8,500 miles away, broken down manually by workers earning $10 a day, is the story of the reshaping of the global garbage and recycling system. For three decades the United States and other industrialized nations have shipped most of their plastic waste overseas — primarily to China, where cheap labor and voracious factories dismantled the scrap and turned it into new plastic goods.
Earlier this year, the American recycling community was stunned by a knockout punch from the Far East as new rulings from China turned a once profitable relationship upside down. In January 2018, Beijing stated that it was banning intake of most paper and plastic waste in accordance with a new environmental policy designed to free China from being the world’s “dumping ground.” The ban extends to other materials as well, and American recyclers are now scrambling to find a way to dispose of tons of material that normally would be enroute to Asia.
Over the last year, staff from Resource Recycling Magazine created a chronological rundown of import policy action across Asia to help stakeholders get a firm grasp on the Chinese import policies that are reshaping materials recovery around the planet.
An end-of-year report from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality shows the state’s recycling rate in 2017 was 42.8 percent, slightly better than the previous year.
Doubling of the bottle deposit to 10 cents was a booster for Oregon’s recycling race. But recycling had setbacks too, including the closure of local paper mills that bought recycled paper and China deciding to cut off recycling imports from the United States.
Glass and paper recycling ticked up, while plastic, electronic and organic waste recycling declined between 2016 and 2017.
There has been much interest among paper industry stakeholders about how China’s recovered paper import policy might affect the recovered fiber supply chain.