Across much of America it’s become commonplace to see recycling bins sitting beside trash cans on street corners, in restaurants and even in homes. However, as major news outlets have recently reported, many cities are scaling back, or even completely halting recycling programs in the face of high costs.

For many years, recycling in America as we know it was made possible by China, which accepted much of America’s recycling. However, that stopped last year after China stopped accepting recycling from America. As such, cities have had to resort to other options, most of which aren’t cost-effective. As The New York Times reports:

Prompting this nationwide reckoning is China, which until January 2018 had been a big buyer of recyclable material collected in the United States. That stopped when Chinese officials determined that too much trash was mixed in with recyclable materials like cardboard and certain plastics. After that, Thailand and India started to accept more imported scrap, but even they are imposing new restrictions.

The turmoil in the global scrap markets began affecting American communities last year, and the problems have only deepened.

With fewer buyers, recycling companies are recouping their lost profits by charging cities more, in some cases four times what they charged last year.

Amid the soaring costs, cities and towns are making hard choices about whether to raise taxes, cut other municipal services or abandon an effort that took hold during the environmental movement of the 1970s.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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Recommended Reading

  • Hundreds of US cities are killing or scaling back their recycling programs (Vox)
  • UN: Environment is deadly, worsening mess, but not hopeless (ABC News)
  • Global Climate Strike: Students around the world protest climate inaction (CNN)

Header photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash