A dramatic shift in the international recycling market means big changes to what Gastonia residents should put in their recycle carts. China has banned the import of 24 types of solid waste, including many types of plastic and a broad range of papers, that Chinese companies previously recycled. And China no longer accepts shipments of plastic, glass or paper that is “contaminated” with bits of food or other particles.
The result: limited demand for what U.S. customers have been taught to recycle.
Effective July 1, 2019, the contractor that picks up recyclable products from Gastonia’s curbsides is no longer accepting many items that had previously been recyclable. The contractor, Republic Waste, says there is no longer a market for those items. Republic also has raised the price it charges the City for collecting and processing recyclables. The City is not passing that cost on to residents.
What to remember: 4-3-2-0
Four items are now recyclable. These four types of recyclables will continue to be picked up curbside in Gastonia every two weeks.
Four types of items to put in your recycle cart:
- Newsprint – must be clean and dry
- Heavy cardboard – must be clean and dry with boxes broken down and flattened
- Aluminum cans – must be empty, rinsed clean and dry
- Plastics #1 and #2 – must be empty, rinsed clean and dry. Lids can be left on.
Some examples of Plastics #1 and #2:
- Clear and green plastic soda bottles – must be empty, rinsed clean and dry
- Cooking oil bottles – must be empty, rinsed clean and dry
- Detergent bottles – must be empty, rinsed clean and dry
- Peanut butter jars – must be empty, completely clean (no food residue) and dry
- Salad dressing jars – must be empty, completely clean (no food residue) and dry
Three requirements for all recyclables:
- Rinsed clean
Two types of items are no longer part of curbside recycling in Gastonia but can be taken to a recycle center:
- Glass – must be empty, clean, dry, unbroken, no lids
- Steel cans used for meat, vegetables, fruit, soup, etc. – must be empty, clean and dry
Recycle steel cans and unbroken glass containers at:
- Farmers Market, 410 E. Long Ave., Gastonia
Zero – do NOT put these items in your recycle cart and do not take to a recycle center:
- Plastic bags – return empty, clean plastic bags to grocery stores
- Office paper – put in garbage
- Mail – put in garbage
- Magazines, catalogs – put in garbage
- Phone books – put in garbage
- Lightweight cardboard such as cereal boxes, snack food boxes, shoe boxes, containers for soda cans or beer bottles – put in garbage
- Plastic toys – donate to charity or put in garbage
- Garden hoses – put in garbage
- Plastics labeled #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 or unmarked – put in garbage
- Clothing and household linens – donate to charity or put in garbage
- Any item that is not empty, completely clean and dry
If in doubt, throw it out.
WasteWise interactive tool
Download and use the City of Gastonia’s WasteWise app to keep track of what can and can’t be recycled. The interactive Waste Wizard tool allows residents to type in the type of product, such as “wrapping paper” or “milk jug” – to learn how to dispose of the item.
If you don’t want to use a smartphone app, the interactive Waste Wizard tool is also on the City’s website.
More information coming
Residents will be learning more in the coming weeks about recycling changes. Gaston County is leading a coordinated public education campaign in Gastonia and four other municipalities. The grant-funded campaign includes mailers, stickers and other outreach.
Keep in mind that the worldwide recycling market is in flux. What can and cannot be recycled may continue to change. The City of Gastonia will work to keep residents informed of these changes.