Communities such as Lewisville are educating its residents how to recycle properly in light of changes in the industry on the other side of the world.
This comes as China has tightened its restrictions on what types of recycled products it will accept.
Local recycling officials have said that China, which at one point imported 40 percent of the world’s recycling products, made changes to its recycling program in 2017 in an attempt to clean up its country. That included decreasing the amount of contamination levels from roughly 3 percent to 0.5 percent.
That has led to a drastically changed commodity market and increased processing costs since facilities have to take the time to clean up the contamination.
Lewisville has taken a variety of measures to inform the public what can and can’t be recycled.
Tim Yatko, materials management specialist for the city of Lewisville, said the city has ramped up its social media efforts to help educate residents on the restrictions.
“We’re doing one post a week,” Yatko said. “One week we’ll tell people no danglers, like cords. Then the next week we’ll say, ‘no food.’ Then ‘no plastic bags’ and then ‘no hazardous material’ like paint and batteries.”
Yatko said the city has also included recycling information in residents’ water bills. He said the bills also direct residents to the city’s website and the North Central Texas Council of Governments website for more information.
Yatko said the city updated its website for a more clear description of how to recycle properly.
Yatko said the plastic bags have been the biggest contaminant placed in recycle bins.
“Items should be clean, dry and loose,” Yatko said. “There’s no need to bag them.”
He said all materials go into one cart, which is picked up and taken to the sorting facility. The sorting then takes place on a conveyer belt.
“The plastic bags can get caught in the machines,” Yatko said. “Then they have to stop the process, so it adds time and cost because of the labor.”
Yatko reminds residents there are stores in the city that have recycling bins for plastic bags, such as Walmart.