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Recycling is not 'Dead'

March 18, 2019

Recently, some international headlines have proclaimed we're approaching an "end to recycling." While the recycling landscape has changed nationally due to China’s decision last year to stop importing some mixed plastics and mixed paper, it is far from dead, especially in Alameda County and the Bay Area. 

Although the new stricter contamination standards make it more challenging for recycling companies to find markets for some materials, much of the material in Alameda County recycling carts is still making its way to facilities where it can be processed and recycled into new products and packaging.

In fact, the recycling industry and the way that materials are processed varies dramatically across the county, and even city to city. In some areas, recycling facilities have altered their policies in terms of what is accepted, while others have not. Therefore, nationwide coverage of the industry can be confusing and does not necessarily depict the full story at the local level. 

StopWaste and its partners continue to encourage residents to continue recycling, but with added attention to proper sorting and keeping the streams clean. Here are our recommendations to recycle right:

Use Less Paper and Plastic

  • Reduce and reuse come before recycling. The less waste we generate in the first place, the less of it we need to manage.
  • Visit for tips on using less.

Keep It Clean

  • Only put what's allowed in your recycling and organics (green) bins. Check with your city or waste hauler to see what's accepted. 
  • Recycling bin: Items going in the recycling bin should be empty, clean, dry, and free of food and liquids. Avoid "wishcycling" – just because an item has a chasing arrow symbol doesn’t mean it's recyclable in your city. 
  • Organics (green) bin: No plastic, glass, or metal should ever go in the green bin—quality compost starts with yard trimmings and food scraps.

With your help, we can keep our recycling clean in Alameda County and ensure we continue to have strong markets for recyclables into the future.