Orange County is facing a recycling crisis. It’s not that people aren’t recycling enough, but that they’re recycling too much.
The recyclables are transported from waste sites in Orange County to Sonoco Recycling Raleigh, a processing plant that sorts the waste. Orange County either pays per ton based on the market value of the recyclables or receives a rebate for the recyclables.
Vendors can create products from recyclables, especially mixed paper or plastics which can be used to make packaging.
But one of the United States’ biggest recycling vendors, China, has raised the standards for what they accept in recycling. The country implemented the National Sword Act, a policy that intends to ban mixed plastic, plastics that once contained food, rigid plastics and mixed paper starting Jan. 1, 2018.
China is currently only accepting recyclables that meet a 0.3 percent or less contamination rate. The average contamination rate across the nation for products leaving facilities is much higher, which leaves the U.S. recycling market in a bind.