China, Ore. recycling centers reject plastic bags

China, Ore. recycling centers reject plastic bags

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by ERICA HEARTQUIST, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 6:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 8:53 AM

PORTLAND -- Recycling plastic just got a little bit harder.

Back in May, KGW reported on restrictions on recycling rigid plastics like certain to-go clamshell containers.

Now some recycling centers are refusing even more plastic because of market conditions.

In a Unit 8 investigation, KGW tracked down which plastics are prohibited at recycling centers and why.

The changes involve plastic film that was being accepted at centers around the area.

"For now, we can't take any plastic bags," said Vinod Singh, Operations Manager at Far West Fibers.

Plastic bags from stores fall under the category of plastic film.

"A grocery sack--those single-use bags you get at the grocery store--produce bags, bread bags, it could be paper towel bags. It could be when you buy a case of water bottles, it comes in that," said Singh.

More: List of accepted, rejected plastics

Plastic film has never been accepted curbside, but now for the first time, they're not being taken at Far West either.

So now pile after pile of plastics are building up, because Singh said China no longer accepts them.

"Unfortunately, that was where the kind of markets really emerged for a while and they were providing a home for materials," he said.

That is not good news for recyclers like Mary Mardesich.

"I brought big plastic bags and I'm just going to hold onto them, hoping next time I come that they're going to take it," said Mardesich.

Singh said there is no indication when and if the restrictions will change.

Number four and five plastics are okay to recycle. So are clear items with the number one on the bottom. They have to be clear, though.

Far West isn't accepting plastic with a six the bottom.

As for plastic bags and film, if you bring them to any QFC, Fred Meyer, Safeway or Winco locations, they'll send the plastic off to be made into plastic decking and railings with the company Trex,based in Virginia.

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