(415) 457-9760 Mill Valley Refuse Service 112 Front Street San Rafael, CA 94901
Recycling as we know it is threatened as never before. In 2017, China announced a change in its import policies, dubbed “National Sword,” that set strict new contaminants thresholds on the bales of recyclable materials it buys. The stringent new requirements—no more than 0.5% contamination in bales—forces recycling processors to go to extraordinary lengths to try to improve the quality of recovered materials. Additional employees have been added to sort lines. Materials are now often processed, and then reprocessed a second time to produce cleaner bales.
The demand for cleaner materials has filtered down from China to domestic processors to haulers, like ourselves, and finally down to you, the original source of this waste stream. Now we must take action to “police” individual recycle carts because the processing plant reports our loads consist of about 20% trash.
We are dismayed that it has come to this, but it must be the responsibility of each of us to ensure a cleaner stream of recyclable material is delivered to the processing plants.
Instead, our driver will leave a Violation Notice (click image on left to see a bigger version) on the cart handle describing the contaminant observed in the cart, and providing an opportunity to clean out the cart for pickup the following week. Or you may opt to request a special pickup (for a fee) after cleaning the cart.
When a cart is tagged, a sticker that describes a number of the most common contaminants will be placed on the cart lid as a permanent reminder of what should NOT be put in the cart.
The common contaminants listed on the violation notice are:
Contamination is the term used to describe anything that renders your recycling non-recyclable. Recycling contamination also increases labor costs at processing plants as workers try to separate materials. Contamination typically occurs when:
In their continuing coverage of the challanges facing the recycling industry, ABC 7 ran this story about our efforts to alert our customers to the contamination problem.
In this short video, our friends at Marin Sanitary explain how contamination can ruin your best recycling efforts.
In early July, we mailed a flyer to all our customer's alerting them to our new recycling contamiantion policy.