La Crosse recycling center struggles in wake of China declaration

The Green Circle Recycling plant is operating like it always has, bundling up recyclable materials so a buyer can turn them into a new product.

What’s different this year is that some materials are having a hard time finding a buyer.

“The market is very competitive,” explained General Manager of Green Circle Recycling, Matt Harter.

Centers like Green Circle would rely on China to be a large buyer of raw materials.

China would on average buy 7 million tons of recyclables a year, which was 70% of the world’s supply. But last year the country decreased the amount it brought in to less than 1%.

“They made a very large change in a very short period,” recalled Harter.

With China no longer purchasing recyclables, there aren’t as many buyers, but the same amount of paper and plastic.

“Thankfully we’re able to move the plastics pretty steadily, the cardboard is one that we are struggling with a little. We stock it until we are able to move it, so we have a limited amount of storage space to fill up,” added Harter.

With fewer companies buying cardboard, Green Circle needs to make sure their cardboard is a good quality to attract buyers, which is done by residents recycling cleaner.

“Keep the contaminants out in order to bring the cost of processing down and have a good finished end product that is very marketable. We have to make it through this point in the market, and we ask for residents to help by keeping the stream clean,” concluded Harter.

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