Plastic recycling in Jackson isn’t recycled after all.
For the past two years, the city has taken plastic recycling from its recycling containers directly to the landfill, essentially throwing it away.
Leilani Mills, the city’s new health and sanitation director, identified the issue, according to city manager Alex Reed.
Reed said city leaders had spent the past three months trying to find a solution and determined there is no market for plastic recycling.
“It used to be that places like China would buy our plastic recycling, but around 2018, they stopped,” he added.
The city will stop collecting recycled plastics effective Dec. 1 and transition the plastic receptacles to collect aluminum and metal instead.
Jacksonians can currently recycle cardboard and plastic at North Side High School, Westwood Community Center, and the south Jackson Walmart. Cardboard recycling will not change under the new plan.
During a Facebook Live session Wednesday, Jackson Mayor Scott Conger encouraged those interested in recycling to buy aluminum cans of soda rather than plastic bottles and use a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic.
Why did the city send plastic to the landfill?
China introduced Operation National Sword in 2018, banning the import of waste and recycled materials like plastic.
The country used to accept nearly two-thirds of global plastic waste, according to a Bloomberg report.
Reed said city leaders at the time determined they didn’t have a good place to recycle plastics and started shipping it to a landfill as a “temporary solution.”
The decision to dump the plastic materials was made in 2018 under former Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist’s administration. The administration never reported the change to the public.
Reed said the city wanted to make the change because people were often spending “a lot of time” sorting and cleaning out plastics only for them to end up at the landfill.
What about more future recycling?
Jackson is in the process of rebidding its garbage service contract, which expires with Waste Management on July 31, 2021.
The city hopes to receive some options for recycling as part of the new contract.
In September, Conger said the city would look into a residential recycling pickup plan and increase recycling containers around town.
“It really just depends on the cost and whether we can make it work,” he added.
Access to recycling was a major campaign issue during the 2019 city elections, with citizens frustrated by the lack of easy accessibility to it.
Reed said the city is also looking at a program to recycle glass, which is currently unavailable.
City to hold a meeting about garbage bids on Nov. 4
The city will hold a pre-proposal meeting open to the public about its solid waste contract on Nov. 4.
The meeting will take place at 2 p.m. in the second-floor conference room.
Reach Adam Friedman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 731-431-8517 or follow him on Twitter @friedmanadam5.
Read or Share this story: https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/government/2020/10/29/think-your-plastics-being-recycled-jackson-think-again/6069682002/