The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Changes in store for recycling plastics


October 4, 2018

Rick Nelson

Food wrappers and other debris contaminate recycling limited to number one and two plastics. Because of the contamination, processors have refused to accept plastic recyclables.

International affairs have caught up with Wahkiakum County's recycling program.

The county, subsidized by state funding, operates the program that collects cans, paper, cardboard and plastics. The material is sold to Cowlitz Waste Control with proceeds helping cover county expenses. Waste Control, in turn, sold the plastics to another firm, which exported the material to China.

Rick Nelson

In November, 2017, Chinese buyers cancelled their contracts, saying the plastics were too contaminated with useless material.

"An estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced with the new Chinese policy by 2030," the online magazine Science Advances reported June, 2018 (

On Tuesday, Wahkiakum County Public Works Director Chuck Beyer informed the board of county commissioners that waste control is no longer accepting plastic for recycling.

"We pay to dump it as garbage," Beyer said. There is still a market for aluminum and steel, he said, adding, "Most recyclables are essentially solid waste."

Officials made no determination about the future of the county recycling program.


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