Since China Will No Longer Accept Some Of What We Discard, Brookhaven And Other Towns Are Moving Back To Dual Stream Recycling

BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New rules for recycling are going into effect in parts of Long Island due to the collapse of the recycling market worldwide.

It was hailed as a recycling breakthrough. Single-stream sorting can mechanically separates different materials that consumers throw out all at once.

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But it has come to a grinding stop.

Residents in four Long Island towns will soon be going back to sorting themselves, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Recycling in a few Long Island towns is about to get a little confusing. (Photo: CBS2)

That’s because the end product in single stream was not pure enough to be sold. China, the world’s leading buyer, no longer accepts our recyclables. The town of Brookhaven’s single stream operator had to close-up shop.

“It’s a negative. It’s a loss. It’s a cost to operate. It’s impossible to do business this way,” said George Bateman, president of Green Stream Recycling.

So this week, Brookhaven will return to a dual-stream process to keep materials pure, meaning residents will have to put out paper and cardboard one week, plastic and metals the next. Town officials are re-teaching the public.

Glass must be dropped at collection sites and residents must be much more careful about contamination.

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“You have to clean out your milk bottles. You have to clean out your dog food cans, or other cans. You have to make sure your paper doesn’t have grease. In fact, we are not taking pizza boxes anymore,” Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said.

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The towns of Huntington, Smithtown and Southold will also return to dual stream in the new year. Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said it’s a temporary fix, but what’s needed are new domestic markets.

“We never should have relied so much on China to take our recyclables,” Esposito said. “We need to create our own recyclable markets right here in New York state or America. We should make glass from glass, plastic from plastic, metal from metal. If China can do it, so can we.”

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Check with your municipality on the proper recycling tips to keep contamination out. When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to put something in the regular trash then to have it ruin the marketability of recyclables.

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Officials say the best thing to do with glass bottles is to return them for deposit. Many municipalities are having a hard time finding any recyclable market for glass.