Outreach grows in response to changing rules of recycling

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YARMOUTH — The impact of a Chinese import ban on 24 types of scrap is being felt in the U.S., where waste management companies, including ecomaine, are trying to change customers’ recycling habits.

Ecomaine Communications Manager Matt Grondin said “contaminants” in recycling make it more difficult for processors to work efficiently and put recycling out to the market. 

Representatives from ecomaine have been at the Transfer & Recycling Center the past two Fridays to share the “dos and don’ts” of recycling.

“Since China has put a ban on (exports), it’s actually gotten more expensive, so the cost of business has gone up,” Grondin said.

Processors now pay about $40-$60 per ton of waste, where they used to pay about $100 per ton. 

“Other places are picking up the slack (from China), but not nearly to the level so there’s kind of a glut of recycled material,” he said.

Contaminants that Grondin said ecomaine sees most frequently are plastic wrap or film, plastic bags and rope or string. 

Other “don’ts” of recycling are large metal parts, wood and lumber, bubble-wrap and Styrofoam or polystyrene foam. 

Ecomaine services 73 towns in seacoast New Hampshire and Maine.

Grondin said there are communities that have worse contamination than others, but it varies depending on the type of recycling system the community uses. 

“There are challenges in every community,” he said. 

Grondin said he’s found that people are generally receptive to the feedback.

“People want to recycle right,” he said. “We have people coming up and either confirming what they know or dispelling some misconceptions and that’s really the purpose of this table.” 

When recycling is contaminated, he thinks it’s simply due to misunderstanding.

“I don’t think it’s people not caring,” he said. “The public education piece is a huge part of what ecomaine does.”

Katrina Venhuizen, an ecomaine environmental educator, will be back in Yarmouth on July 14. 

“We’ll continue to come out to Yarmouth and other communities to really promote these dos and don’ts of recycling,” Grondin said. “It’s kind of the nuanced things that you might have to stop and think about.”

For more information about how to “recycle right,” visit ecomaine.org

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Katrine Venhuizen, right, an environmental educator with ecomaine, explains the “do’s and don’ts” of recycling at the Yarmouth Transfer & Recyling Center on Friday, June 29.

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