China’s Ban on Recycled Waste Imports Affects Utah’s Plastic Waste

Officials in Utah have taken action on how to address the growing number of garbage at recycling facilities, due to China’s ban on importing recycled waste.

In Weber County, for instance, the impact of the ban manifested through growing piles of waste at landfills. Since 2014, the county has struggled with recycling problems that would only become worse with the Chinese government’s decision to stop on recycled imports.

Recycling initiatives

A potential impact of China’s ban will likely include higher recycling rates for Utah residents, although their utility bills will not increase yet in the near future. In Ogden, Jay Lowder of the city’s public services department said that they already consider each possible option to reduce operational costs so that they will not have to increase rates.

Free recycling serves as one of these options. However, residents should also do their part in segregating waste, as contamination of recyclable materials can be problematic. Some contaminants include car engines, old clothes and used diapers. These materials should not be combined with recyclable items. Aside from recycling problems, Utah’s position as one of the biggest toxic chemical producers in the country also emerged as one issue.

Chemical production

Utah’s production of toxic waste reached 273 million pounds in 2016, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Releases Inventory report. It indicated that a waste management service or hazardous transporter in Utah might have been more necessary during that time.

The report based its findings from more than 18,000 chemicals, manufacturing, mining and utility facilities in the U.S. Alaska ranked as the largest chemical producer with 834 million pounds, followed by 317 million pounds in Nevada.

Environmental initiatives have become a focal point for Utah, amid the issues of recycling and toxic chemical production. For this reason, companies need to be more self-conscious of their waste disposal measures to help the state and local governments’ efforts.