Q. China has restricted/stopped taking much of the U.S. recyclable materials. How is this effecting the recycling processes in the Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities? Are we sending more plastic to the landfill? Have we found other sources? – Russ, Davenport
A. Sarah J. Gardner, planner and Rock Island County Waste Management Agency (RICWMA) coordinator, Bi-State Regional Commission, responded:
"So far China's new recycling policies have not, to my knowledge, resulted in more plastic from Rock Island County being sent to the landfill.
"As we discussed on the phone, electronic recycling and household hazardous waste from RICO are sent to the Waste Commission of Scott County, so they would be able to speak directly to the effects on those types of recycling.
"Fiber (paper and cardboard) and non-fiber (plastic and metal) recycling for RICWMA is handled by Republic Services. I am copying Ron Lawson on this email in case he would like to speak directly to your question in terms of how China's policies have impacted these types of recycling in Rock Island County.
"I will just say that although nationally this change in China's policies will initially lead to some recycling challenges, it may also present opportunities down the road. It is too early to say, but we may see new growth in domestic processing of recycled goods to meet the needs of waste diversion programs such as those that exist in Scott and Rock Island counties. Time will tell."
Ron Lawson, operations supervisor at Republic Services, said, "Great reply Sarah! The waste streams for recyclables has not been affected by any changes in China."