Education Important for the Future of Recycling

Waste Management Public Sector Representative Paul Kalibabky gave a recycling update to the City Commission in April. Recycling has significantly changed in recent years, and public education is necessary to keep up with market requirements.
Single sort recycling has led to “wish recycling” where individuals hope an item placed in the container is recyclable without actually knowing if it is. It is best to place items in the garbage if you’re not sure if it is recyclable. Recycling contamination occurs when trash ruins otherwise good recyclables. Contamination continues to be the main area of concern for recycling programs. On average, the country has a 25% contamination rate.The goal is 0.05%.

Keep it simple. Only recycle paper, plastic bottles, cans and cardboard boxes. Keep food out of recycling containers, keep recyclables dry and don’t bag any of the materials. Plastic bags are not recyclable and cause many issues and delays during sorting. The chasing arrow symbol with a number on products does not mean it is recyclable. This symbol only identifies the product's composition.

A little history. In 2017, over 25% of the world’s recyclables were imported by China, including about 50% of the world’s paper and plastics. China implemented a new import policy banning materials and limiting contamination rates, impacting recycling programs all over the world. By 2021, China will no longer accept any imported consumer recyclables. U.S. recyclers will have to start looking for other markets, particularly domestic markets.

Mandan recycled 971 tons of aluminum, cardboard/paper, tin, plastic and glass in 2019. Over 20 tons more than in 2018! The city’s recycling contract with Waste Management expires at the end of 2020. Contract renewal talks will begin soon. The monthly cost of the recycling program is expected to increase due to the changing recycling environment. Visit cityofmandan.com/recycle for more information.