New Seasons stops sending recyclables to China

New Seasons stopped accepting recyclables Oct. 1

Far West Recycling handles tens of thousands of tons of paper, plastic and metal, Oct. 18, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — New Seasons Market has historically accepted plastics that weren’t allowed in curbside collection bins from customers, which were then shipped and sold to China. However, stricter standards have caused China to stop accepting the recycled material.

On its website, New Seasons said its Portland-area stores would no longer accept recyclables from its customers as of Oct. 1 after China announced it would stop buying recyclables starting Jan. 1.

The looming ban could mean those plastic bags may go into the landfill.

Far West Recycling handles tens of thousands of tons of paper, plastic and metal, Oct. 18, 2017. (KOIN)

Plastic recyclables have been one of the top exports to China from America since 2007, according to New Seasons. China had been sending various consumer goods to the U.S. and then, stores in the U.S. would ship the containers back — empty.

Instead of sending back empty containers, U.S. companies started to send waste paper, recycled cardboard boxes and plastic scrap.

New Seasons said it was a “win-win situation” for both countries and became an “indispensable part” of municipal recycling programs in the U.S. But recently, China said that much of the material coming from the U.S. was “too contaminated” to be recycled effectively.

While New Seasons will no longer be able to ship its recyclables to China, the store said it’s determined to make sure its waste is redirected as much as possible. They have not announced a new program, but said that they feel a “national or regional recycling option” would be more sustainable than its previous international partnership.

New Seasons also said moving forward, they would think long-term about how their packaging can be more sustainable.

Although New Seasons can no longer accept plastic bags and film from customers, the store said the changes do no affect what people can recycle curbside.

The state is also looking at other countries to take some of the recyclables in the near future.

Businesses that still accept plastic bags can be found through the METRO Find a Recycle tool or the American Chemistry Council’s Plastic Film Recycling website.

Far West Recycling handles tens of thousands of tons of paper, plastic and metal, Oct. 18, 2017. (KOIN)