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UPDATED: June 15, 2018

What Chinese import policies mean for all 50 states

Recycling markets are volatile by nature and this has been one of the more turbulent stretches in recent history.

Opinions still differ on whether China's new import policies will last, or how bad the effects were in the first place. Though by now it's become clear that those effects are spreading in certain regions of the U.S. in the near-term.

Waste Dive began tracking this across all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) back in Nov. 2017 with a companion feature story. We sent a short questionnaire to each environmental agency about whether they’d heard concerns, what guidance they were offering, and whether any disposal bans were in place (specifically on material affected by China) that would require waivers in a worst-case scenario. We know that state agencies aren't always involved, disposal ban details vary and the local factors involved are often complex.

Since then, we've continued to update this page with details from our own reporting and elsewhere. We scan the news daily, and try to update this page at least weekly, but can't spot it all. See information that doesn’t reflect your knowledge or would help expand ours? Send an email to [email protected].

For a state-by-state breakdown, click on the menu below or scroll through. 

Effect Key

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

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UPDATES

  • Idaho: More cities join Boise in the Hefty EnergyBag program. Western Recycling still finding markets, but not lucrative ones, and prices expected to rise for some cities.
  • Indiana: The situation worsens for local mixed paper and Terre Haute considers a free drop-off option to make up for the loss of a service provider.
  • Maine: DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer outlined steps the agency will take to help markets, including new infrastructure grants, in his summer newsletter.
  • Michigan: After losing more than $1 million so far, Kent County could double tip fees at its MRF and affect others in the region. Township drop-off sites could also be endangered.
  • Ohio: Cleveland is reinstating contamination fines, Akron is raising recycling rates and Stark County is trying to get a handle on material quality.
  • New Jersey: The township of Millburn has been told its service provider will no longer take any recyclables in bags, citing China as the main reason.
  • Vermont: Gov. Phil Scott recently signed a bill allowing temporary disposal of mixed paper until July 2019.
  • Wisconsin: Milwaukee is "doubling down" on contamination education after commodity revenues from Waste Management dropped.
Hover on the icons below for more information

Alabama

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

If market effects are being felt in Alabama, they haven't been reported to the state’s Department of Environmental Management or local media outlets. According to the Southeast Recycling Development Council, the region has felt commodity price shifts like everyone else but has more domestic end markets. Have you heard otherwise? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Alaska

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

What we know

Alaska was one of the first states to begin seeing effects in fall of 2017, because multiple small municipalities ship their material south to Washington for export. At the time, contractors such as Republic Services and Waste Connections had begun sending letters warning that markets for mixed plastics and paper were dropping off. 

Juneau, the state capital, expected to see effects on its curbside single-stream program but was confident in the quality of source-separated material coming from its drop-off center. The small city of Sitka, located on an island, dropped mixed plastics and paper from its program as a result. According to Alaska Public Media, Ketchikan and Petersburg have done the same. 

In May, KTOO reported that Republic Services - which services those three municipalities - has been stockpiling mixed paper due to market issues. While about three-quarters of the material eventually moves, the remainder has been sent to landfills after it degrades.

Arizona

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

UPDATE: Numerous municipalities in the Phoenix East Valley metro area are reporting major hits to their budgets as commodity revenues plummet, according to the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Though none have announced major program changes yet.

What we know

According to correspondence with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s recycling coordinator in November, businesses were “struggling some” with commodity prices and local governments have been asking questions, but material was still moving without notable disruption.

More recently, at a Jan. 24 work session of the Page City Council, Republic Services told local officials that processing fees were rising fast. One unique factor in Page was that education had been minimal to date and the city's current contamination rate is around 40% as a result. Both parties agreed to revisit the matter in 30 days with new solutions.

In March, the Idaho Statesman reported that Phoenix has found a way around the mixed paper ban by producing a "special news mix" that is sold to a private recycler in China. These bales are especially dry because of the local climate and hold up well on the overseas journey.

Effective June 1, Flagstaff is limiting curbside recycling collection for plastics to only #1 and #2.

Arkansas

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

UPDATE: The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that multiple MRFs are stockpiling OCC in hopes that markets will improve and paying paper mills to take other fiber grades off their hands. Though operators recognize their situation is still better than in other parts of the country.

What we know

Like other Southeast states, Arkansas is seen as less affected by the recent market shifts and there hasn’t been any guidance posted on state agency or association sites.

In March, the city of Texarkana announced it would be suspending all plastics service at the local drop-off center due in part to China's effects on commodity markets. Residents will still have recycling access for plastics at a monthly "Green Texarkana" drive or via curbside collection from Waste Management, as reported by the Texarkana Gazette.

California

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

UPDATE: Following new guidance in May, CalRecycle hosted a day-long workshop on China this week. Through wide-ranging discussion with many of the industry's largest players it became clear that California's situation is similarly dire to other West Coast states, though there may be less consensus on how to fix it yet.

New reports from late May and early June indicate that recycling has become more time-consuming, and expensive, for MRFs in large cities throughout the state. San Diego is facing a potential $5.1 million swing in costs to work with IMS Recycling Services and Allan Company, according to a May 24 council memo. A Wall Street Journal story highlighted rising operational costs for Allan, as well as northern Cal-Waste Recovery Systems. The Los Altos Town Crier reported similar challenges for Los Altos and Mountain View.

Meanwhile, the Napa Valley Register reports that while contamination is still a problem the city's service provider hasn't had as much trouble finding markets.

What we know

California has been in the news less than some of its West Coast neighbors, though CalRecycle and others sources indicate that local recyclers are feeling the effects.

Larger cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles remain confident about their options and haven't made any program changes. Though northern recyclers such as ReThink Waste and the Ecology Center have expressed concerns about low prices. In December, San Jose released a memo outlining how this shift could affect local recycling. 

At a Jan. 23 meeting, CalRecycle confirmed that about one-third of the state's recycled material has historically been exported and much of that has been going to China. This has been particularly true for mixed paper, which the state defines to include OCC, as reported by Resource Recycling.

The Sacramento Bee reported that county officials would be doubling down on education and contamination enforcement. New market realities have changed the recycling budget from about $1.2 million in annual revenue to $1.1 million in expenses. In April, the county began rolling out pilot education programs and testing out new carts - which were already slated to be replaced - in select neighborhoods.

In March, SFGate reported that Recology is staging more plastic bales than usual at its San Francisco MRF and still working to get material out of the 4-5% contamination range. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that while South Tahoe Refuse has seen the expected drop in commodity revenues it has still been able to ship material. Salinas Valley Recycles and Tri-Cities Disposal & Recycling Service reported many of the usual challenges at a recent Gonzales City Council meeting, according to King City Rustler.

In April, Bakersfield.com reported that the eponymous city is proposing a 3.5% rate increase for the upcoming fiscal year due in part to new market restrictions. Local companies, such as Metropolitan Recycling, have reported stockpiling in the past. Because it's currently costing the city around $25 per ton to move recyclable materials that could result in a $300,000 annual expense if rates don't shift.

Colorado

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: The Larimer County Recycling Center, which serves cities such as Fort Collins and Loveland has essentially stopped recycling plastics #3, 6, 7 due to a lack of markets, according to the Coloradoan.

What we know

As of November, Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment hadn’t been getting questions about China’s import policies, but said recyclers would need to talk to them if markets declined significantly. State regulations require MRFs to meet a 75% minimum material turnover rate. Waivers would be needed to change that and stockpile material.

Toward the end of 2017, Boulder County reported minimal market effects and was hopeful this could spur more interest in expanding domestic end markets. MRF operator Eco-Cycle confirmed that it is still having fewer difficulties than other areas due in part to newly installed optical sorters for plastic, an existing policy of slower line speeds to ensure quality and preexisting relationships with domestic markets.

Based on multiple stories, including a March series from Aspen Public Radio, Denver has also been affected but is still faring pretty well. Quality control has become even more important for the local MRF operated by Waste Management in recent months, to the point that it's now operating at 60% capacity. Average contamination rates for material coming into the facility from surrounding areas still averages about 20%. 

In May, The Durango Herald reported that city officials voted to enact a new $2.69 monthly surcharge for residential collection bills starting in July. The city's processor, Friedman Recycling, raised prices by $25 per ton in March and the city would have faced a $180,000 budget shortage within a year without further action. Alternative solutions such as storing the material or sending it to other companies were found to be too expensive or not viable.

Connecticut

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

Some Connecticut MRFs do send mixed paper to China, and like other parts of the Northeast there have been reports of scattered stockpiling, but the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has maintained a relative sense of calm about the issue so far.

The agency remains in contact with local operators and will want to hear a plurality of concerns before considering any recycling waivers. A new universal education campaign called "What’s In What’s Out," which had been in the works prior to China's announcement, debuted on Nov. 15 to help reduce contamination. In March, Closed Loop Fund announced a new partnership with DEEP to distribute at least $5 million in infrastructure investment during 2018. This could potentially help MRFs upgrade sorting technology or be used in other capacities.

Based on reports from at least one regional operator this type of assistance is much-needed. The Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, which owns a MRF operated by Republic Services, has encountered significant challenges in recent months. Glass had already been a challenge, with much of it being shipped nearly 500 miles to Pennsylvania, and MIRA is now in the same spot as many others when it comes to mixed plastics and mixed paper. With the exception of #5 plastics, MIRA is sending other low-grade plastics that have no market with residue to its waste-to-energy facility. The MRF had been sitting on more than 1,000 bales of ONP and mixed paper during the first week of April, due to negative pricing, as well as hundreds more of OCC. 

Delaware

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

The market for mixed plastics has evaporated in Delaware over the past few months, due in part to QRS Recycling being idled in Maryland. The Delaware Solid Waste Authority is confident that its MRF can meet stricter contamination standards with less investment than others if required. This modern facility, the only one in the state, is operated by ReCommunity. Delaware’s Universal Recycling Law does prohibit haulers from directly disposing of material, but allows for that material to be disposed as residue once it passes through the MRF. If markets do decline and widespread waivers are needed the DSWA would likely work directly with the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for a blanket policy rather than a case-by-case scenario.

District of Columbia

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

The D.C. Department of Public Works was well aware of the market situation in November, but so far none of the city’s local contractors had communicated issues about finding markets for material. In fact, D.C. was one of multiple cities to expand its recycling program last fall.

Florida

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Recent reports show that Pensacola had been sending its recyclables to a landfill for nine months, without alerting the public, after Tarpon Paper in Alabama stopped accepting material last fall. Council members are expected to vote on a new contract with the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority MRF this month, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

What we know

Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection hadn’t received any questions or feedback about China’s import policies in November, but expected that mixed plastics and paper could be dropped from local programs across the state’s 67 counties if China's enforcement was serious. State permission would not be required in this event. While Florida law requires counties to recycle a significant portion of at least four major material packaging types it doesn’t specify what kinds.

Though contamination is a concern, comprising an estimated 30% of the state's recycling stream, and a new "Rethink. Reset. Recycle" campaign was launched on America Recycles Day to raise awareness about the issue. In November, Polk County officials cited China as a reason for eliminating glass, magazines and certain plastics from the local residential recycling program. In January, a state bill on environmental regulation (SB 1308) was amended to include extensive language around reducing contamination through contract structures, education and other strategies. That bill was passed in March.

30A Recycle temporarily suspended collection for residents in Walton and Bay counties in April, according to Northwest Florida Daily News. In a letter on its website the company said this was because the Walton County Recycling Center had stopped accepting plastic. The county's solid waste manager pushed back on that in the article, saying that his facility was still taking plastic but stockpiling about 50 bales because Waste Management had stopped buying it.

Georgia

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

If market effects are being felt in Georgia, the state’s Department of Natural Resources wasn’t aware of them in November. According to the Southeast Recycling Development Council, the region has felt commodity price shifts like everyone else but has more domestic end markets. Have you heard otherwise? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Hawaii

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

What we know

The Hawaii State Department of Health doesn’t maintain any control over recycling markets or regulations. That is up to the state’s four counties. At the local level in Honolulu, China’s import policies are a major strain on what had already been a difficult recycling market. Because of its island geography Honolulu must export all of its materials. Glass goes to California. Aluminum goes to Alabama. The rest had been going to China, but more of it is now going to Southeast Asian countries.

Though a recent report by Honolulu's city auditor said there could be potential cost savings if material went to the local H-Power waste-to-energy facility instead. Necessary changes to local regulations and the state solid waste management plan would be needed to allow for that to happen. In late January, the Honolulu City Coucil deferred any decision on changing its recycling program until further information was available.

Meanwhile, Maui County is no longer accepting mixed paper at its four drop-off recycling centers. The county has also restricted its list of accepted plastics to #1 and #2, and only wants clean containers, as reported by Maui Now.

Idaho

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

UPDATE: Boise recently completed the initial roll-out of the Hefty EnergyBag program, reporting that more than 40,011 pounds of plastics have been collected as of June 5. Neighboring municipalities Garden City and Eagle have reached agreements to purchase the special orange bags from Boise, with Meridian said to be in talks to do the same.

All of these bags will be pulled off the line at Western Recycling for shipment to Renewlogy's Salt Lake City, Utah facility for conversion into diesel products.

While Boise had previously considered dropping mixed paper, or temporarily sending it to landfill, the city has decided to stay the course because Western is finding markets. Granted, Western's general manager said that those markets "are in shambles right now and quality is king." This discussion about contamination, and pricing, is also expected to lead to new contract negotiations between Western and Pocatello according to a recent Idaho State Journal story.

What we know

Residents in the Twin Falls area have lost access to recycling for 3-7 plastics, following decisions by PSI Environmental and Magic Valley Recycling. The Twin Falls City Council voted March 5 to keep the recycling program for other materials by raising rates starting in April. This included the caveat that recycling will only occur if it costs less than $100 per ton. 

Republic Services has also stopped accepting 3-7 plastics in Southwest Idaho, particularly Ada County. This includes Boise, Meridian and Garden City, among others. In April, Ada County asked residents in unincorporated areas for feedback about how to proceed. Potential choices included suspending service for a rate decrease, dropping mixed paper for a small increase, or maintaining the current program for a higher increase.

As of May, Blaine County had temporarily stopped recycling mixed paper according to Boise State Public RadioThe Times-News reports that businesses in the Magic Valley are looking for ways to reduce waste, while residential curbside material is often going to local landfills. The Nampa City Council recently voted to raise rates for curbside residential service in order to maintain the program as reported by the Idaho Press.

Illinois

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

If market effects are being felt in Illinois the state’s Environmental Protection Agency wasn’t aware of them in November. In January, Plastics News reported that plastics processor and exporter Parc Corp. was closing due to the new import restrictions.

Have you heard more? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Indiana

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

According to a report on the Indiana Recycling Coalition's recent annual meeting from NPR, market conditions are tough in the state and discussion is ongoing about how to create more domestic solutions. In Terre Haute, where Republic Services is warning that mixed paper has lost all value and Goodwill Industries will no longer accept material, city officials are looking for ways to ensure recycling stays viable. The Tribune Star reports that free drop-off sites, with adequate security to reduce dumping, could be an option.

Have you heard more? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Iowa

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

If market effects are being felt in Iowa the state’s Department of Natural Resources wasn’t aware of them in November. Though the agency doesn’t directly track recycling and said it wouldn’t necessarily be the first to hear. The November edition of the Iowa Recycling Association's newsletter featured detailed interviews with many of the state's largest recyclers. While none reported program changes or market collapses in the state, prices for mixed paper and rigid plastics were cited as problematic. Reducing contamination was also mentioned as a priority, particularly for Iowa City which is switching to single-stream soon.

Kansas

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

According to communication with the state’s Department of Health and Environment in November, area recyclers had been following the developments for “many months.” While China’s import policies are expected to have less of an effect than on the coasts, prices are expected to take a hit.

As of Jan. 18, the Lawrence Journal-World reported that local recycler Hamm was only exporting about 10% of its material to China prior to the policy shift, and began shifting away from that market last summer. Because of that it has been less affected and didn't report any major stockpiling issues. Though because of the broader commodity markets Hamm may have to raise processing costs, which in turn would affect prices for residents in Lawrence.

Kentucky

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

If market effects are being felt in Kentucky the state’s Department of Environmental Protection wasn’t aware of them in November. While the agency doesn’t directly track recycling flows it does expect that widespread market effects could result in lower prices for the state. Have you heard otherwise? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Louisiana

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality doesn’t regulate material recovery facilities and had not heard about any market effects in November. Have you heard more details? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Maine

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Paul Mercer focused on recycling markets in his summer newsletter, saying that Maine has been "significantly impacted" by China's policies. He said DEP staff "are working with others in the recycling industry to support the development of new materials processing facilities and domestic markets for recyclables, and to educate consumers to 'Recycle right!' so we create clean commodities readily remanufactured into new products." A new "small grants program" for recycling infrastructure was also previewed.

What we know

MRF operators such as ecomaine, Casella and Coastal Recycling have all reported issues moving material in recent months, particularly mixed paper, according to the Portland Press Herald. Some new markets have been found in the Northeast and Canada, as well as Southeast Asia, but prices are down. 

The Tri-County Solid Waste transfer station, which provides drop-off service for multiple rural communities, recently announced it will essentially only be recycling #2 plastics. Lincoln County announced it will now only accept #1-2 plastics.

In early May, Portland Press Herald reported that ecomaine held a press conference to raise awareness about recycling contamination and share new information about a spike in operating costs. While the facility's roughly 15% incoming contamination rate may be lower than others that is still far above specifications. Because of this, ecomaine will start charging $70 per ton for processing and an additional fee of up to $70.50 per ton if contamination is above 5%.

Maryland

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Recycling markets are a local matter, but the state’s Department of the Environment “continues to monitor implementation of local recycling plans and potential impacts that international markets may have on Maryland's ability to meet its waste diversion goals.” Local governments and businesses hadn't been getting in touch with any questions as of November. Have you heard otherwise? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Massachusetts

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

UPDATE: In early June, The Boston Globe reported that conditions remain tough for the Casella and E.L. Harvey MRFs. The story also indicated financial challenges for additional cities and confirmed that ABC Disposal has threatened to stop collections in Fairhaven, Mattapoisett and Rochester.

What we know

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection began been fielding questions from businesses and municipalities last fall. Based on MRF capacity issues due to slower processing speeds, and other extenuating circumstances, the DEP has issued 36 disposal waivers for unsorted single-stream material. Four remain active as of late May. The agency has also been discussing the implications of China’s import policies at events, sharing contamination guidance such as the “Recycling IQ Kit" and promoting a range of available grants or loans.

At the annual MassRecycle conference on March 23, DEP officials and industry representatives provided the latest updates on this situation and said they don't expect it to improve in the near-term. Reducing contamination, educating residents and likely raising contract costs were all key talking points.

At the local level, some MRF operators such as Casella have seen a sharp drop in overall commodity values while spending more on labor to improve their bale quality. E.L. Harvey & Sons, based in Westborough, had received local and national media attention for the large amount of material that has piled up on its property this winter. Both companies told Waste Dive in March that they've begun to move more material, but at negative values. Though a recent collapse in the local glass market has only increased financial pressure. Other MRF operators have also reported difficulty moving material, resulting in stockpiling.

Local service providers have been working with municipalities to enforce tighter contamination policies or potentially change contract terms. Residents that are part of the Martha's Vineyard solid waste district will be seeing a rate increase earlier than expected. JRM Hauling and Recycling now has a "zero tolerance policy" for plastic bags. FW Russell & Sons Disposal demanded that the town of Belmont amend its contract under threat of service disruption or litigation. The company raised a similar request with the town of Wilmington, which hasn't made a decision yet, in April.

In late April, The Sentinel & Enterprise reported that Fitchburg will soon begin paying $40 per ton to recycle after never being charged by Waste Management since the contract began in 1992.

In late May, New Bedford filed a complaint to block ABC Disposal from increasing its collection fees and to force the hauler to continue recycling collection through the end of its contract in 2023. The hauler recently threatened to stop collecting recyclables after June 30 if New Bedford and neighboring communities don’t agree to cover rising costs.

Plymouth has cancelled its contract with ABC Disposal after the company attempted to change terms halfway through a 10-year deal agreement, as reported by Wicked Local Plymouth.

The Taunton Daily Gazette reports that the sudden closure of a WeCare Environmental MRF has disrupted recycling for multiple cities, though some had more notice than others. The company told South Coast Today that market conditions were a key factor and it hopes to relocate into a larger facility in the area soon.

Michigan

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

UPDATE: MLive reports that Kent County has lost more than $1 million due to market swings and may now double the cost to tip at its MRF starting in 2019. This would affect local service providers, as well as neighboring Grand Rapids, and has spurred a wide range of reactions. On a smaller scale, The Daily Telegram reports that Adrian and Raisin Townships are reconsidering their free drop-off sites due to similar cost increases.

What we know

Aside from the price fluctuation, Michigan wasn’t feeling major market effects in November. The state's Department of Environmental Quality had already been focusing on cleaning up the stream and was planning a forum to elevate the issue. Per state law, MRFs are required to remain under a 10% residual rate so that adds further incentive to produce good product. Inspectors from Chinese brokers had also been spotted in the state. Even though material was moving at the time, the DEQ was still interested in seeing expansion of domestic (or Canadian) markets expand for material such as cardboard and mixed plastics to decrease reliance on exporting.

In January, Gov. Rick Snyder brought new attention to the topic by admitting that failing to double the state's recycling rates had been "one of the most disappointing initiatives" during his tenure. Since then, both Snyder and state legislators have released multiple proposals to increase funding and access to recycling. Collecting clean material, that could be used by domestic manufacturers, is a priority within this latest push. 

Recently approved recycling contracts with Waste Management in Brighton and Advanced Disposal in Genoa Township have reflected the rising costs of recycling, according to the Livingston Daily. While Michigan has been less affected than others, contamination reduction and education remain top priorities throughout the state.

Minnesota

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the state is actively looking to develop new domestic markets for mixed plastics and paper. If the plastic can be processed and pelletized within Minnesota there may be markets for it in the upper Midwest. Though the necessary investment to do that will take time. As for the paper, the state is exploring ways to use it “as a cellulose product that can be made into something else besides back into paper.”

As of January, Minnesota MRFs reported the usual challenges but nothing on the level of other states. The MPCA told MPR News that it was "a long way away" from granting any type of disposal permission.

In March, MinnPost reported that the state was still faring better than most, though conditions weren't ideal. Eureka Recycling said that because it traditionally used local markets material was moving but at lower prices. Vida Recycling Corporation said it was currently sitting on 300 tons of mixed paper because domestic markets were flooded after China's ban.

Mississippi

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality hadn’t received many questions on China’s import policies as of November, though was “concerned” about the situation and planned to discuss it at a fall conference. Have you heard about any other local effects? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Missouri

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Scott City may soon lose all recycling access because local provider Inter-Rail Systems Inc. can no longer offer it for free. Curbside service was already suspended last year. The Southeast Missourian reports that the city's small size makes it hard for any program to be viable.

What we know

In November, the state’s Department of Natural Resources said the news was “very much on the radars of local governments and businesses.” The agency remains in close communication with a solid waste advisory board, consisting of solid waste management districts and industry representatives, about preparing for future effects. Missouri is also interested in developing and expanding domestic end markets.

In December, effects began to appear in at least one part of the state. 2 Rivers Industries has notified residents in the small city of Hannibal that it would no longer be accepting #3-7 plastics at the drop-off center, as reported by WGEM. 

Between November and February, Columbia ended up stockpiling its mixed plastics because no buyers were available according to the Missourian. That changed when ReVital Polymers out of Sarnia, Ontario contacted the city unsolicited and offered to buy up its material. Another buyer from North Carolina did the same in March. While stockpiling can still occur, the city doesn't have plans to make any major changes to its program or facility at this time.

Montana

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

What we know

In November, an official from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality had begun hearing about market issues and projected they could get worse because winter weather inhibits recycling activity in the state. Those predictions proved correct come January, as reported by the Daily Inter Lake.

As of March, the DEQ told KPAX that contamination remains a big challenge because processing costs are already higher due to the state's landlocked position. When combined with low commodity prices this has made it harder for companies to operate recycling programs in the region.

In April, the Missoulian reported that Republic Services and Garden City Recycling - the main recyclers for Missoula and Lake County - are no longer taking #3-7 plastics. The same goes for Glacier National Park, whereas Yellowstone is still taking all plastics. Pacific Steel and Recycling also announced plans to stop taking any plastics of May 7. 

Butte has experienced its own challenges, because nonprofit AWARE Recycling recently announced plans to close. State budget cuts and commodity markets are the main factor. This could eventually affect curbside options for local residents that are currently available for a fee via McGree Trucking. As of late April, the Montana Standard reported that representatives from McGree, as well as Helena Recycling and We Recycle Montana, have been meeting to try and work out a regional solution. Curbside service continues on a temporary basis.

Nebraska

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Officials with Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality said that they weren't aware of any direct effects on recycling in the state coming from China’s import policies as of November.

In May, Waste Connections announced it was ending free recycling drop-off at its transfer station in Fremont. The Fremont Tribune reports that this is the second company to do so recently, but curbside service is still available for a fee.

Have you heard more? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Nevada

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

What we know

Officials from the DEP said the ban was “greatly affecting markets” since most recyclables from Nevada are sent to China through the ports of Oakland or Los Angeles. In northern Nevada, the Salvation Army was collecting recyclables from local businesses and putting the material up for bid, but had to stop as of Oct. 1. Waste Management was setting up to take over those contracts, largely to collect cardboard.

New Hampshire

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: The Laconia City Council recently voted to close three unstaffed recycling drop-off centers, citing contamination issues and rising costs. The move is expected to save $70,000 per year, according to The Laconia Daily Sun. Residents will still have drop-off access at a transfer station.

What we know

New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services doesn’t directly track recycling markets and works closely with the locally based Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) for the latest information. The NRRA has said drop-off programs are faring slightly better, but the state is still feeling market effects. The association has highlighted its ongoing contract and market guidance services for communities during this time.

Though DES doesn't track markets, the Department of Administrative Services does and is actively engaged in selling commodities from government office locations. Prices hadn't been favorable for these efforts even before China's import announcements hit last summer, but a recently implemented baler pilot for fiber could help yield better returns.

In January, Concord announced it would no longer accept curbside material contaminated with plastic bags. That material will be tagged for non-compliance and left behind. The city isn't expected to see price increases because it had already signed a fixed price contract with Casella through 2025, as reported by the Concord Monitor.

In March, Seacoast Online reported that Exeter and other municipalities serviced by Waste Management have been informed of tighter quality standards and are budgeting for lower revenues from recycling. Collection crews have also been leaving behind heavily contaminated carts with notices in some instances.

In April, The Conway Daily Sun reported the local drop-off recycling center has experienced issues with mixed paper. This material had traditionally been sold to Casella, and still can be, but the cost has begun to outweigh sending it to the town landfill. Conway has sent a few bales of mixed paper to disposal as a result.

In May, Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess told the Union Leader that the cost of the city’s recycling collection with Casella has increased to $82 a ton, from $1 a ton in July 2017.

New Jersey

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Service provider Giordano Co. has told the township of Millburn that it will no longer accept any recyclables in plastic bags of any kind. Local officials cited tighter contamination standards spurred by China as the main reason.

What we know

While New Jersey's challenges haven't been making many headlines, the Association of New Jersey Recyclers reports that local MRF operators are experiencing similar conditions to their counterparts throughout the country.

This has resulted in the usual slowing of lines, addition of labor and build-up of bales. Tough market conditions have made it more difficult to move all types of material and quality is a top priority. Based on all of this, processing costs are going to increase - if they haven't already - as contracts come up for renewal. In January, the borough of Oakland took a rare step of switching back to dual stream collection to improve material quality.

That isn't currently expected to lead to reductions in curbside programs. Doing so would require a more complex regulatory amendment at the county level due to state recycling requirements. The main focus going forward will be on reducing contamination at the curb, keeping plastic bags out of the bins and finding ways to continue the push for domestic market development.

New Mexico

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

What we know

New Mexico has been feeling effects for months. According to the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, many municipalities stopped receiving rebates last fall. Though because much of New Mexico is set up on a hub and spoke model, where only the hubs pay for processing, smaller or more rural municipalities were seen as less susceptible to these effects than in other states. Those with source-separated drop-off programs were also seen as more insulated.

That has begun to change, especially in larger cities with single-stream collection. As of March, the situation reached a boiling point for many of these cities with sole area processor Friedman Recycling asking to renegotiate contract terms at its local MRFs. According to Friedman, the combination of slower line speeds, extra labor (more than 50 new staff) and negative commodity pricing has left them with no choice. 

This has also left smaller municipalities with less leverage than their larger counterparts. For example, Albuquerque's terms are expected to influence Santa Fe's options at the local Friedman MRF. The same goes for whatever happens in El Paso, TX affecting Las Cruces. The South Central Solid Waste Authority, which serves Las Cruces, voted for a rate increase on March 26, according to the Las Cruces Sun News. That is expected to generate an additional $40,000 per month.

In April, Santa Fe approved a contract adjustment with Friedman that will be covered by cash reserves in the upcoming fiscal year. According to The New Mexican, this could increase costs by $540,000 to $720,000 depending on markets. Though in better news for the city, it just finalized a new agreement with MillerCoors for shipping glass to Colorado.

New York

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

In November, an official from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said there had been some concern from municipalities, but no company or local government had stopped collecting recycling. The department’s guidance has been focused on quality control and reducing contamination to improve market options.

Service providers in New York City have reported increasingly tight margins on many materials - including once reliable commodities such as cardboard - but say it is still moving. Though glass remains a serious challenge, and was one long before China's import restrictions were announced.

The Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency has begun enforcing tighter contamination standards as a result, with financial penalties for haulers. In a March Poughkeepsie Journal editorial, Royal Carting Service COO Evelyn Constantino emphasized the need for Dutchess County residents to produce cleaner material and said some should expect "a small increase in the cost of recyclables collection."

North Carolina

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

North Carolina has felt the effects and the state's Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service has been very engaged on the topic. 

Sonoco Recycling's Raleigh MRF is one of the region's main facilities and has popped up in the news multiple times recently with details about slower processing speeds and greater contamination scrutiny. In February, the Port City Daily reported that New Hanover County has been stockpiling cardboard for months. There were concerns about the material degrading due to weather, but Sonoco had been asking the county to hold off on selling it for a lower price in hopes of markets improving. 

Pink Trash told its local customers that recycling costs are now going up substantially because the company doesn't have a contract with Sonoco. The regional recycler informed them of a new cost structure in a letter, citing a drop in mixed paper pricing that made previous rates untenable. In March, the company told Waste Dive that education would be a key part of improving material quality.

In March, The News & Observer toured Sonoco's Raleigh facility and reported that the city is no longer receiving rebates for its material. In April, the Jacksonville Daily News reported that local governments in Onslow County have been approached for rate increases based on higher processing costs for Sonoco and are in various stages of approval.

North Dakota

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Efforts to contact the North Dakota Solid Waste and Recycling Association and state Department of Health were unsuccessful in November.

The Grand Forks Herald wrote in March that while local companies were noticing the usual effects they were more insulated. Waste Management reported finding new Asian markets for its material. MinnKota Recycling, the intermediate processor which handles material for the Fargo-Moorhead area, reported minimal issues because customers already pay a recycling fee and the company has existing domestic markets. Fargo has seen an uptick in contamination since switching to single-stream last summer, but is keeping it in check through truck cameras and notices.

Have you heard more? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Ohio

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

UPDATE: Like others in the region, Ohio was less reliant on export markets but is still being affected by the drop in commodity prices. A recent story from The Times-Reporter details ongoing efforts to cut down on contamination in Stark County and surrounding areas as a result. The Akron City Council has approved a small rate increase to cover such costs and Cleveland will reinstate controversial contamination fines, according to stories from Cleveland.com.

What we know

In January, WTVG reported that Toledo would begin cracking down on contamination but didn't link this directly to China's import policies. In March, The Athens News reported that the nonprofit Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers was struggling due to market conditions and may change its contract terms to factor in new pricing.

In June, the small city of Canal Winchester decided to remove all of its recycling drop-off locations due to ongoing contamination issues. Based on current rates and market conditions, the city could otherwise now be liable for up to $22,000 per week in fines according to WCMH.

Oklahoma

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

The impact of Chinese policies may not be felt too hard in Oklahoma, since many end users of recycled material are located within state lines, according to correspondence with the state's Department of Environmental Quality in November. The city of Norman has begun to feel market effects, and may have to raise rates in the future, but hasn't changed its program yet. The city's current contract with Republic Services is up this summer so any such conversations would occur then, as reported by The Norman Transcript in early January.

Oregon

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

UPDATE: Crown Point Refuse and Recycling notified customers in Corbett and Troutdale that it will now be commingling recyclables and refuse at the curb, but will leave carts behind "in anticipation of a market recovery at which time we will resume separate collection." The Willamette Week takes an in-depth look at how this issue has evolved throughout the state and what it means for Oregon's proud recycling culture.

What we know

Oregon is feeling the effects, and feeling them hard. Senator Ron Wyden even co-signed a letter to the Chinese ambassador requesting more dialogue in January.

Recyclers throughout the state have experienced challenges finding markets for material, with China effectively shut off as an option at the moment, and some have had to request disposal permission. 

As of June 7, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had granted 22 disposal concurrences. DEQ emphasizes that these requests are only granted after "all other options are exhausted" and accounted for a very small percentage of recyclable material in the state. An estimated 10,138 tons has been disposed as of April 30.

DEQ's broader priority is to move toward a sustainable materials management system, though that doesn't help solve near-term challenges. To address the current crisis, DEQ is hosting regular stakeholder meetings on the topic.

Looking toward the future, Portland hosted the National Recycling Coalition's first market development workshop in April. As reported by the Portland Tribune, attendees said new markets for plastic had begun to open up in Southeast Asia and regional infrastructure investment was possible. That could include Chinese investment in mixed plastics processing capability, the reopening of a former paper mill or other approaches.

As this plays out, each of the state's major MRFs has experienced its share of trouble with contamination and stockpiling. In January, the Oregon Refuse & Recycling Association released a draft list of suggested materials for municipalities to include in single-stream programs based on feedback from processors. The hope is that this will help local officials have a unified message on education.

Rogue Disposal - which services numerous western communities such as Medford, Jackson County, Central Point, Jacksonville and Phoenix - is sending the majority of its material to landfills at the moment, as reported by the Mail Tribune. The company is currently running test loads to see whether residents have responded to these new guidelines and if contamination has gone down accordingly. In that same article, the DEQ identified western Oregon as one of the hardest hit areas.

The cities of Ashland and Talent aren't seeing any changes because Recology takes their material to California. Mid Oregon Recycling hasn't reported issues with stockpiling or disposal concurrences, according to the Source Weekly.

Material lists have also been limited in Marion and Jackson counties. As of mid-April, KGW8 reported that this information still hadn't been widely publicized by companies and residents were unaware of the change. Recent stories indicate changes are also underway in Lincoln and Douglas counties. Milton-Freewater's curbside program has been canceled due to market pressures and other factors. Eugene and Springfield recently adjusted to the more limited material list. 

This process is still a big adjustment for many Salem residents, as shown by a recent call for reader feedback by the Statesman Journal.

Rate increases have also become common in various parts of the state such as GreshamKlamath County for Waste Management, and the Albany area for Republic Services. Other companies are expected to seek similar increases if they haven't already. The Portland City Council recently votedto approve a collection rate increase for Republic Services that will take effect in May, and be re-evaluated in 2019.

In late April, Oregon Business reported that recyclables have been sent to landfills in Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Crook counties, as well as the cities of Roseburg and Pendleton. The Register-Guard reported that residents in Lane County are having a tough time adjusting to newly limited rules and confusion abounds.

Effective June 1, Douglas County and service provider Sunrise Enterprises will no longer offer recycling for most materials. Starting in July, local company Roseburg Disposal will only accept corrugated cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, and glass bottles and jars. Southern Josephine County is considering its own program reductions, as reported by NBC5 News.

Pennsylvania

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Waste Management has cut back hours at its Erie recycling drop-off site, and will no longer accept paper, cardboard or glass, according to GoErie.com.

What we know

As of late December, The Meadville Tribune reported that Crawford County would be suspending its drop-off recycling program due to contamination concerns. A new $200 penalty from Waste Management for each contaminated load was cited as the main factor.

In late February, the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center released new guidance and perspective on what National Sword means for the state. This included many of the usual talking points on reducing contamination, ensuring bale quality and being aware of market dynamics. It also included perspective from Chinese representatives for the state's Office of International Business Development about how this fits into broader national trends and political discussions.

In April, FOX43 reported that both Penn Waste and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority have considered raising rates as a result of the new situation. Penn is working to add a "sustainability fee" for commercial customers, and has asked to do the same for residential business. If municipalities don't agree they will eventually see that cost factored into contract renegotiations. LCSWMA is considering a $6 per year increase for households, but is still in talks.

Rhode Island

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

In November, Rhode Island officials hadn't received any inquiries for guidance related to China’s new policies and hadn't developed new guidance for those policies. Though producing high-quality streams in the face of increasing contamination was still an issue, according to a November Providence Journal article.

It has since been reported by ecoRI News that the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation's MRF is struggling to find markets for mixed paper now that it can no longer export to China. Unlike in 2008, RIRRC doesn't have space to store the material and is currently paying International Forest Products to move it. Plastics have been less affected because of existing markets in the U.S. and Canada. Though the closure of a key regional bottling plant in Massachusetts has also disrupted options for glass recycling in the state.

South Carolina

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Like other states in the Southeast, South Carolina has been less affected by China's import restrictions. In November, state officials said that they hadn't heard of any impact from local governments or companies. At the time, the Department of Health and Environmental Control was urging local governments to address issues of contamination and educating residents on what material can be recycled.

In March, The Post and Courier reported that the Horry County Solid Waste Authority's material recovery facility was experiencing some of the usual challenges with market dips and contamination. Bales of plastic were mentioned as particularly harder to move lately. Another factor is that the facility's residual rate increased from 14% to 34% since it began accepting material from Charleston County. That arrangement will continue until a new MRF opens in North Charleston next year.

South Dakota

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources hadn't heard a lot from localities in November, but had heard that local governments and companies collecting lower-grade plastics through single stream were having difficulty finding markets for those materials and stockpiling as a result. There are domestic markets for mixed paper, so that was less of a concern. Are you feeling the effects, or have you heard of more going on in South Dakota? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Tennessee

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Tennessee officials hadn't received any feedback from local governments or companies regarding the import restrictions in November. Like many states in the Southeast, Tennessee seems to be escaping the worst of the effects. Officials with the state Department of Environmental Quality said they were aware that local governments and companies are monitoring the situation.

Dickson County, which operates 10 "convenience center" drop-off sites, raised concerns about its ability to recycle certain plastics in the near future. Though as of December, the county's solid waste division said the amount of valuable material still outweighed more challenging commodities, as reported by the Tennessean.

Texas

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Waste Management is cracking down on contamination in Texarkana by leaving behind residential carts that have too much contamination with tags. According to the Texarkana Gazette, this could potentially lead to all service being discontinued if the city can't improve its material quality.

What we know

In November, officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the Chinese restrictions could be a good opportunity to develop local recycling markets. In December, the Austin-American Statesman reported that market effects were still relatively minor. Though Texas Disposal Systems has still taken this as an inspiration to increase research around plastic reprocessing technology that could be installed at its resource recovery park. Other companies, such as Balcones Resources, have previously said they plan to invest in new sorting technology.

In January, China's effects on commodity markets were a talking point as the Houston City Council finalized a new long-term recycling contract with FCC Environmental Services. In February, San Antonio proposed a $50 fee for residents putting dirty diapers in their recycling carts, as reported by Texas Public Radio. While not explicitly linked to China, this is part of the overall contamination crackdown spurred by the country's import policies.

As of March, El Paso became one of the most affected municipalities in Texas. Friedman Recycling is asking for a $40 per ton processing cost increase due to ongoing market challenges. So far, the El Paso City Council has resisted changing terms in a contract that runs through 2030. Though the city is ramping up education and enforcement efforts. Whatever the city ends up negotiating is also expected to influence options for nearby Las Cruces, NM.

This summer, El Paso's Environmental Services Department is launching a pilot program called "Tug Tip Turn and Tag" across 10,000 of the 180,000 households it services. The goal is to cut current contamination rates of 30-35% in half. This move comes as processor Friedman Recycling continues to push back on cost and material quality. The city has vowed to keep recycling even though landfill fees would be less expensive, as reported by El Paso Inc.

Utah

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

What we know

In November, Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality said it wasn't aware of any changes from local governments or recycling companies, and was unsure how the import restrictions would play out.

While not explicitly linked to China, Salt Lake City told residents in early January to stop putting plastic bags in their recycling carts because of contamination challenges.

Recycled Earth, a company in Ogden, has had challenges moving material recently due in part to contamination rates approaching 50%. In April, the Standard-Examiner reported that the North Ogden City Council will consider whether it's still cost-effective to continue curbside recycling collection or try and renegotiate rates with Republic Services for a different approach.

Vermont

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Vermont Gov. Phil Scott recently signed a bill allowing the state's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to "suspend the application of the landfill disposal ban" on mixed paper until July 2019. This comes after local companies such as Casella Waste Systems reported negative markets for the material that have made it nearly impossible to move at any price. The new language also updates separation requirements for MRF residuals and allowable fees for recycling service.

What we know

In November, Vermont officials had heard some concern about China’s new standards, but not seen direct effects or fielded questions from local governments. Officials said they were “cautiously watching” what the effects might be, and mostly focused on plastics #3-7 and mixed paper.

In May, the Chittenden County Solid Waste District increased its MRF tipping fees to $25 per ton for in-district haulers and $50 for all others. Rates are expected to climb again soon over the summer. A drastic swing in mixed paper pricing was cited as a main reason. Local governments, such as Burlington, will likely pass these costs on to residents through solid waste taxes according to Seven Days.

Have you noticed local effects in Vermont? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Virginia

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Noticeable

UPDATE: Plastics #3-7 will no longer be accepted Recycling & Disposal Solutions. This will affect residents in the Roanoke and New River Valley regions, according to The Roanoke Times.

What we know

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has advised that local governments keep up with information coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Local operations such as TFC Recycling and Butler Paper Recycling have previously reported a significant reduction in market value, and an ongoing issue with "wishful recycling," as reported by The Virginian-Pilot. TFC recently told the Richmond Free Press that it's having trouble meeting new quality standards because 15-20% of the residential material it receives is contaminated. Though the company is still finding markets for fiber in Vietnam, South Korea, India and domestically.

Recently, van der Linde Recycling announced plans to close its mixed waste processing operation in the Zion Crossroads area, due in part to low commodity prices. The MRF has been taken over by County Waste and will essentially be used as a transfer station to send material to another facility in Chester, as reported by The Daily Progress. This has had ripple effects in Albemarle County and as far away as Harrisonburg, where the city was temporarily landfilling material

Washington

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Heavy

UPDATE: Residents in Puyallup, Sumner, Bonney Lake and nearby areas will begin paying more for recycling service as of July 1, according to the News-Tribune. Many others have already done the same or are in the process of considering it as discussions ramp up around this issue throughout the state.

What we know

Last fall, the Washington Department of Ecology said China's policies were "beginning to create a major disruption" and warned that slower processing rates could lead to disposal. The agency asked local governments to avoid permanent changes and emphasize the need for clean materials. The Washington Refuse and Recycling Association has been pushing "when in doubt, throw it out" as part of ongoing guidance.

During November and December, this began to affect smaller municipalities such as Walla Walla and College Place. Some have dropped mixed plastics from their programs, or considered raising rates to deal with higher processing costs. In January, Yakima company Central Washington Recycling limited its drop-off service due to market issues. Waitsburg decided to discontinue drop-off recycling for everything but cardboard in February. College Place recently decided to temporarily suspend all curbside recycling service, as reported by the Union-Bulletin.

Ecology hosted its first statewide recycling market call on March 28, during which it became apparent that effects are worse than previously reported. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) told Waste Dive it is now allowing companies to request rate changes more frequently than in the past and expects all 53 regulated haulers to make a request if they haven't already.

This issue gained additional prominence in King County after The Seattle Times reported that Republic Services had been asking for temporary mixed paper disposal permission. Bellevue has granted approval through April 20, with the Bellevue Reporter writing that more than half of the material is contaminated. It has since been reported that both Mercer Island and Sammamish have granted Republic similar temporary approval. Other municipalities have done the same, but so far Seattle has not. KING5 has reported that Seattle-based drop-off company The Recycling Depot will be closing a location due to commodity prices.

Officials from Washington also participated in a market development workshop hosted by the National Recycling Coalition in early April. The potential for new processing capacity at Merlin Plastics in B.C., Canada was mentioned as one sign of hope for the state's current challenges.

In mid-April, the Auburn Reporter said King County will form a special task force to address these mounting challenges. This will include representation from the county, the UTC, Recology, Republic, Waste Management and multiple local municipalities. A report with solutions is expected by October.

Most recently, northern Skagit County reported it has stopped accepting certain plastics at local transfer stations and rates could be going up for a variety of companies. Meanwhile in southern Cowlitz County, Waste Control Inc. told the Longview Daily News that its operations hadn't been affected because of pre-existing relationships with an export market in India.

West Virginia

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

Efforts to contact West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection and Solid Waste Management Board were unsuccessful in November. The West Virginia Recyclers Association was unfamiliar with any details of China’s new import policies when reached for comment. Have you heard more? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected].

Wisconsin

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

UPDATE: Milwaukee and Waste Management are "doubling down" on contamination education, according to the Journal Sentinel. The city has been told that plastics 1, 2, 4 and 5 are the only ones that can be reliably recycled at this time. Average commodity revenue has dropped by one-third since the fall. Though at $60 per ton that is still much higher than in other regions.

What we know

Some local recycling operations, including Madison, the state capital, have limited what material they’re accepting. Plastics #3-7 can be baled and legally landfilled, something that at least one MRF had inquired about with state officials as of November. At that time, the state hadn't received requests to landfill banned materials. The agency was also encouraging communication with the public as markets shifted.

Wyoming

Effect

Reported status of China’s proposed import policies on local recycling

Minimal = Aside from the average market fluctuations, no major issues were reported.

Noticeable = Material is still moving, but with more difficulty, and local programs may be considering cuts.

Heavy = Recycling programs have been cut back, recyclable material is being disposed, or markets are shrinking.

Minimal

What we know

In November, Wyoming officials said they hadn't heard many concerns aside from dealing with contamination. At the time, the Department of Environmental Quality was urging collectors and processors to communicate with their markets to see if any restrictions would be put in place.

As of April, the city of Sheridan reported that it was currently stockpiling mixed plastics with the hope that it could move them when markets improve. Though so far both the city and service provider County Trash have been telling residents to continue business as usual.

If you have seen or heard anything related to China's import policies in your state, let us know by emailing [email protected] or [email protected].