Why can we no longer recycle plastic containers that are #4, #5, and #7?
This is the most significant change to what we now recycle. The recycling of these particular plastic containers was largely dependent on markets outside the USA. However, in 2018, China, who received most of these plastics implemented a policy known as the National Sword. This resulted in greater restrictions on importation of recyclables of any kind. Markets for #4, #5, and #7 plastics are now almost non-existent. As a result, these items are in many cases leaving the recycling facility as trash and being landfilled. Additionally, these plastics tend to contribute to more food waste contamination in the “Single Stream” mix, resulting in a poorer quality of cardboard and paper being marketed for recycling. We are therefore asking residents to place these containers in their trash receptacle. It should be noted that this change is being implemented not just here in Camden County, but in counties State-wide.
The good news is, there are still strong domestic markets for plastics #1 (soda bottles, water bottles, etc.) and #2 (milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, etc.,) which make up most plastic containers in the waste stream.