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June 5, 2019
Millennium Recycling Inc. announced Wednesday that it won’t accept plastic bags for recycling effective immediately.
The Sioux Falls-based processor and broker of recyclable materials had been one of very few recycling companies in the United States still accepting plastic bags, according to a statement from Millennium.
Company president Shannon Dwire said the change is directly related to market conditions that stem from China’s National Sword Program. The policy, which officially began Jan. 1, 2018, bans the importation of certain types of solid waste, as well as sets strict contamination limits on recyclable materials, according to the Center for EcoTechnology’s website.
The ban has affected the international recycling system, creating logjams at processing facilities and leading to pileups of recycled materials at those facilities and landfills. According to Millennium’s statement, plastic is considered to be an extremely high-cost item, so the company made the decision to stop accepting it in an effort to improve efficiencies, cut costs and stay ahead of the changing marketplace.
“Plastic bags and film have always been a problem in the recycling industry,” Dwire said. “They wrap around equipment and get jammed in our screens, slowing down the entire process and making it very difficult to cut them loose. With no market, it no longer makes sense for us to collect them.”
In addition to logistical benefits, the company hopes its decision leads to more public awareness about the harmful elements of using plastic bags, said Marissa Begley, director of outreach and communications.
“The average plastic bag is used for just 12 minutes,” Begley said. “By removing them from our recycling program, we hope people realize the overall negative impact they have on the environment in our increasingly throwaway society and choose to avoid them altogether.”
Residents who still want to recycle their plastic can do so at participating grocery stores or other retailer collection sites. For a full list of collection sites and information about Millennium’s change, click here.
Millennium Recycling announced Wednesday that it won’t accept plastic bags for recycling effective immediately.