Problem with plastics: Why isn’t Phenix City picking up plastic for recycling?

Problem with plastics: Why isn’t Phenix City picking up plastic for recycling?

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By Toni Stauffer

Phenix City residents may have noticed that their plastic recycling is not being collected. Unfortunately, that is because the recycling vendor Phenix City uses, All American Recycling, is no longer accepting plastic. Typically, the city collects plastic from residents and sells it to the vendor, but the price on plastics has hit rock bottom and no one local is buying—not without purchasing other recyclables along with the plastic.

“According to All American Recycling, they cannot sell or move the existing plastic they currently have stored,” Angel Moore said, city engineer and director of public works. “They were selling plastic overseas, but they cannot find anyone to purchase it anymore.”

“I don’t think it’s just a problem in Phenix City,” Mayor Eddie Lowe said. “I think it’s a problem everywhere. There’s no one buying it, because they can’t dispose of it. We are trying to find out what other cities are doing.”

Many of us don’t know what happens after we put the plastic in the bin and it is collected. We think we are doing good for the environment and that’s the end of it, but recycling is a lot more complicated than many people know. Recycling is part of a system that is dictated by demand, price and local regulations. When recycled goods have to compete with other products in the market, they have to be less expensive and of equal or higher quality. Without a market for the plastic, it becomes useless. So, what is the city of Phenix City doing to fix the problem?

“We have contacted Pratt Industries to review the amount and type of items that we accept for recycling,” Moore said. “They may be able to start accepting our recyclables, but no agreement has been made at this time. They do accept plastic along with other items.” The city is also looking into other options outside of the immediate area.

“We are working on a solution now, but I cannot state when it will be implemented,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, residents will have to deposit any plastic recyclables in their household garbage bins, unless they want to store it until the City can implement a solution.”