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Earth Day math problem: it’s not affordable to recycle plastic

Apr 22, 2019, 1:21 PM
recycle plastic...
The cost to recycle plastic has become hard to bear in many cities, after China stopped taking U.S. recyclables. Photo: Getty Images

COALVILLE, Utah — China no longer takes recyclables from the United States, which means it could soon become a lot more expensive to recycle.

Tim Loveday, Solid Waste Superintendent for Summit County, said it costs about half as much throw recyclables like plastic away than it does to recycle them.

“We’re running into rising costs,” he said. “Contamination issues are driving sorting requirements up, which drives costs up.”

A lack of recycling plants in the United States does not help, in Loveday’s view. He believes the world market will come around and we’ll see more plants pop up, but in the short term, converting waste into energy might help make it pay off.

“Burning to use as a fuel source rather than as a true recyclable,” for example, Loveday said, is something that could happen.

But he does think the tide is turning.

“In the long term, I think the price of oil eventually goes up, and plastics will become valuable again,” Loveday predicted.

 

 

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Earth Day math problem: it’s not affordable to recycle plastic