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The original item was published from 10/19/2017 9:53:31 AM to 10/19/2017 2:44:01 PM.

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Solid Waste

Posted on: October 19, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Global Recycling Restrictions Impact San Juan Island

The global recycling issue referred to as China’s “Green Sword” is impacting recycling outlets throughout North America, including here on San Juan Island.  Due to this issue, Lautenbach Industries, the contractor managing the San Juan Transfer Station for San Juan County, will no longer be able to accept commingled (mixed) recyclables at the transfer station.  The Chinese government has mandated very strict acceptance policies which are currently unobtainable for North American recyclers of mixed recyclable waste.  The impact is significant as the Chinese market is where approximately 30% of North America’s recyclables have been processed.  In response to this pending restriction, Recology, the facility in Seattle that has been processing San Juan Island’s recyclables has stopped accepting mixed recyclables from San Juan Island and others.  This change only affects curbside collection of recyclables within the Town of Friday Harbor and self-haulers on San Juan Island bringing recyclables to the transfer station.  As of this writing, there are no changes to County-wide curbside collection of recyclables by San Juan Sanitation or self-haulers bringing their recyclables to the Orcas Transfer Station and Lopez Solid Waste Facility.    

Lautenbach is responding to this challenge by implementing a source separate recycling program at the San Juan Transfer Station.  People will be able to bring in clean cardboard, aluminum cans, metal and wood.  Glass, plastics and mixed paper will not be recycled at this time.  This solution will allow residents to recycle as much as possible in the short-term while we work together to develop a new long-term sustainable recycling option for San Juan Island.  Lautenbach has committed to honor recyclable pricing for mixed recyclables coming to the transfer station during this transition.

It is anticipated that the Town will have to discontinue curbside recyclables collection in the next 30 days but the actual date will be determined and additional information will be provided at a later date. 

Lautenbach is developing information for the San Juan Transfer Station website and Facebook page to provide helpful ways for Islanders to reduce, reuse and recycle.  San Juan County and the Town of Friday Harbor will also provide updates on their websites and are committed to communicating and assisting in every way possible as this situation develops.  Consumers can do their part by purchasing products with less packaging and avoiding plastics and other non-recyclable materials that would likely go to the landfill.  Also, ensure your recyclables are clean and dry before taking them to the transfer station to reduce contaminating the recycling streams.  Additional information on recycling changes due to the China restrictions can be found:

China Recyclables Ban Whitepaper 10.6.17

China Sword - FAQ


For more information on recycling changes to San Juan Island contact:

San Juan Transfer Station, 360-378-8449,,

Mark Herrenkohl, San Juan County Public Works, 360-370-0534,,

 Duncan Wilson, Town of Friday Harbor, 360-378-2810,,

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