It’s not only toxic E-Waste being dumped in landfills instead of being recycled. Plastics and other hazardous materials often end up there as well. Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s only going to get worse since more American cities are cancelling their recycling programs due to cost.
From The Denver Channel:
AKRON, Colo. — Once you toss out your trash, it finds a new home, but looking closely, not everything in some landfills needs to be thrown away for good.
Recycling is not as simple a process as putting something in a garbage bin and re-purposing it into something new.
“It’s a responsibility to recycle because you have to put back a clean product,” said Dencia Raish, the town clerk administrator for Akron, Colorado. “You have to make sure it’s sorted correctly, and it’s just a responsibility to get it right. A responsibility to pay for it.”
The burden is one Akron can no longer carry, and it was a decision Raish thought she’d never see in her hometown.
“It was disappointing to lose the recycling program in Akron. There were citizens who were pretty brokenhearted about it because we want to do the right thing out here, but it’s just cost-prohibitive to make it happen,” said Raish.
The cost of recycling is higher now because the United States used to sell recyclable goods to China, things like cardboard and plastic bottles, but in 2018, China tossed out their deal.
“Over the past decade or two, China had been a very common destination for a lot of recyclable goods here in the U.S.,” explained senior editor of Waste Dive, Cole Rosengren. “Many other countries were sending it there as well. The idea was they do a lot of manufacturing and use this material for manufacturing, and then, there’s a good cycle going on there. Chinese government decided around 2017, after already making some signals they’re drawing back, that they wanted to limit the import of scrap material for various reasons. They cited environmental and health factors and also just because they were trying to ramp up their own recycling efforts, which had not been that formal in the past.”
The United States doesn’t have the widespread infrastructure to process recyclables, so the price to recycle is too high for some communities.
“The cost of recycling was going to double, and the town wasn’t going to be able to absorb that cost,” said Raish.
Because of this, Akron now throws all recyclables in the landfill.