Posted: 7:23 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013

Plastic Recycling program shutting down

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60 tons of plastic photo
60 tons of unwanted plastic sit at a Thurston County recycling facility.

By Richard Thompson

Thurston County, Wash. —

Jeff Harwood is a district manager with Lemay and oversees its Thurston County recycling. The facility brings in about 15 tons of what's called plastic film each month but there are 60 tons of the plastic sitting at the site because nobody wants to buy it. "The problem is we don't have a market for it," Harwood said.

Starting Oct. 1, LeMay said they will no longer collect plastic film from commercial customers. The plastic film includes everything from plastic grocery bags to plastic wrappers for products like bottled water. It's essentially any plastic you can poke your finger through.

LeMay says the current market problems are the result of China tightening its rules on the types of recycling material it accepts and starting a program called Operation Green Fence. The new rules mean China is being more selective and not buying the low-grade dirty plastic to recycle anymore. It could result in a cleaner China but a dirtier Thurston County. Harwood said "China is saying we are only going to accept the high value material we have a demand for now."

Thurston County will also be getting rid of its plastic film recycling container at the county landfill, which is a public drop-off site. Leesa Spychalski was dropping off some plastic film on Tuesday and said the end of the recycling program is disheartening "That really bothers me cause when you go out shopping everybody is bagging in plastic and that means it goes in the landfill."

Jim Silver volunteers to run the recycling program at Panorama City Senior living community. We found three bins filled with plastic film ready to be recycled and Silver says the thought of it going to the landfill instead worries him. "This stuff has to have a new way to serve the public, society. We can't have it in landfills."

KIRO-7 checked around and found out there is no plastic film recycling in Pierce County. Officials with the city of Seattle say the city recycles about 7,000-8,000 tons of plastic film a year but another 7,000-8,000 tons are too dirty to be sold and end up in a landfill.

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