In a March 17 cover story detailing how recycling programs across the nation have been collapsing, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma told The New York Times that “we are in a crisis moment in the recycling movement right now.”
Why? Because we can no longer afford to be nonchalant about shipping our junk overseas.
As part of an attempt to improve its own environmental situation and focus on domestic recycling, China has begun to limit what it is willing to receive from other countries, and in July of last year announced an intention to ban the import of all recycled materials by 2020. Countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia have followed suit by tightening their acceptance standards as well.
This poses a big problem for California, which has been sending roughly one-third of its collected recyclable material to other countries. Solid waste and recycling facilities have been forced to stockpile materials, creating significant challenges for local governments and the residents they serve.
Although the situation feels daunting, solutions do exist. CalRecycle has compiled a list of responses that are bubbling up from the local level, and so in keeping with the Monitor’s ongoing effort to share replicable policy and programmatic strategies, here below are a few from the Bay Area.