Starting June 1, London will no longer pick up curbside recyclables indefinitely.
In addition to the reformatting of the recycling process, seven were fired and two laid off from the recycling center to recoup costs. These actions are in response to the dwindling profit recycling brings in.
"It's strictly economics," explained Mayor Troy Rudder. "Recycled materials are being bought for less, and there aren't enough buyers. We were getting a lot of contaminated recycling products like trash and household garbage that China wouldn't buy. It's a problem all across the country. We lost money, quite a bit of money last year, and we're on track to losing even more money this year."
In recent years, China, the world's largest buyer in recycled materials, has cut back on its purchases, buying less plastic waste for less money. According to National Public Radio, China once bought 70 percent, or seven-million tons, of the world's plastic waste. China's businesses would then use the recyclables to manufacture new items.
However, as NPR states, "a lot of the [recycled] plastic was contaminated with stuff that made it difficult and expensive to recycle – paper, food waste, plastic wrap (which is not recyclable). And some of the plastic was hard to recycle and thus not profitable to import." This led to the Chinese government banning imports on most recycled goods.
"That had a big impact worldwide on recycling, and pricing had been down market-wise," said Scott Moore, assistant/safety coordinator of London's Public Works. "They got more than they could handle, and the quality of what they were getting was not sufficient. It was too contaminated with garbage, so they pretty much stopped taking anything for a long time."
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, recycling has gotten a boost. According to Moore, people maintaining social distancing by ordering online have had more cardboard to recycle. This, however, is a temporary improvement, which will end at a currently unknown time.
London isn't ending all recycling, as recyclables can still be dropped off at the recycling drop-off center, located at 950 TLC Lane. The recycling center will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Sunday. Items will need to be sorted and placed into the proper bins at the drop-off center.
The City of London asks that residents store their blue recycling bin until further notice.
"Recycling is also something that's good for the environment," said Rudder, "so we're going to leave the blue recycling cans at residences, and maybe in the future, if things change, we can go back doing home pick-up again."
NPR quotes were taken from "Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn't Want It?" by Christopher Joyce.