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Idaho Falls discontinues paper-plastic recycling

Idaho Falls will discontinue paper and plastic recycling programs effective Friday. The city is removing all paper and plastic recycling containers.

Sanitation Superintendent Jordan Rechenmacher stressed the decision was driven by international rather than local issues. “We are always looking for ways that we can improve service to our customers. As you can imagine, it was disheartening to learn that we have to discontinue a service that the public supports and that benefits our environment. Right now, our hands are tied, but we will of course continue to look for other options.”

The recycling facility used by Idaho Falls informed the city Thursday they would no longer accept paper and plastic. The city will continue to accept glass, cardboard, tin and aluminum at all of its drop-off locations.

The situation is being placed squarely on the doorstep of China.

According to a March 13, 2019 NPR article, “For years, America sold millions of tons of used yogurt cups, juice containers, shampoo bottles and other kinds of plastic trash to China to be recycled into new products. But last year the Chinese government dropped a bombshell on the world recycling business: It cut back almost all imports of trash.”

According to the city, recycling in Idaho has been limited by the state’s relative geographic isolation from processing facilities. Even so, the Sanitation Division estimates Idaho Falls will haul over 1,000 tons of recyclable materials in 2019.

Pocatello officials told us there are no immediate changes expected in the Gate City’s recycling programs.

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