East Texas recycling exports affected by China restrictions

East Texas Recycling Exports Effected by China Restrictions
East Texas recycling exports affected by China restrictions

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - An economic issue is developing for U.S. and East Texas cities over a decades long effort to be more environmentally friendly; specifically, recycling.

Most cities have some form of recycling effort that allows citizens to have their materials picked up and delivered to a recycling center.

"One of the things America has done a good job of is recycling. And we created a market for exporting a good," says Longview department of public affairs assistant director Dwayne Archer.

The bulk of exported recycling is paper, plastic and aluminum cans.

It’s an industry that didn’t even exist 40 years ago. Now, exporting items for recycling has not only become profitable, but a necessity for many American cities.

There is a complication. Until recently, according to Archer, China bought most of U.S. recycling. They have since placed restrictions on what they’ll take.

“China has said we’re only going to take certain materials and certain materials contamination rate, if it gets over this we’re not going to accept it. And it’s a very low rate.”

Demand for those recyclable materials goes down, which means prices have gone down significantly.

“We don’t know what China’s going to do, they could change the rules tomorrow, and that would change a lot,” Archer says.

The bottom line is what cities like Tyler and Longview are looking at.

“Where we were getting several years ago 10-dollars per ton, we’ll now pay 20 dollars per ton to actually take it there,” Archer said.

It’s cheaper to pay a recycle collector than to take it to a landfill. With the busiest recycling time of the year coming up, hope is that new markets can be found.

“Right now we’re in a good position, we’ve got good infrastructure for our recycling. Those markets may open, if they open we’ll be in good shape,” Archer said.

Archer says the current market will not affect the public recycler as far as the rates and pickup are concerned.

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