Shoreline Recycling Rates May Increase, Trade War Partly To Blame

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SHORELINE, WA – The Shoreline City Council will consider a proposal to increase recycling rates due to volatility in the global recycling market.

Shoreline began a 10-year contract with Recology CleanScapes on March 1, 2017. In August, Recology informed Council of rising recycling costs. That month, China, the largest importer of recyclables, imposed a 25 percent tariff on items like corrugated cardboard and plastic scraps. That tariff is related to a trade war between the U.S. and China.

In January 2018, China stopped buying imported plastic scrap that wasn’t 99.5 percent pure.

“The changing material specifications, import bans, tariffs and other disruptions have forced local collection companies to increase processing levels, shift to other markets with higher shipping costs and more aggressively control contamination levels in a market with dropping prices for recycled materials,” Council staff wrote in a briefing on the increase.

If the proposal is approved, Shoreline’s recycling rates would increase $1.35 per month for residents and $2.10 per yard for multifamily property owners. The increase would generate $572,000 annually, which Recology would use to “eliminate problematic materials from collection points through education and incentives, an increase in monitoring and rejection of unacceptable material at the curb, as well as support for material handling process changes.”

The proposal will be up for discussion at the March 18 Council meeting. Council will likely not take action until April.

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