Bellevue grants Republic Services permission to landfill large quantities of paper

Bellevue grants Republic Services permission to landfill large quantities of paper

Poor recycling habit means paper from Bellevue can’t be sent to China for reuse.

Stricter regulations for importing recyclables to China has caught up to one of Puget Sound’s largest waste management companies.

Republic Services collects waste and recycling for Eastside communities that include Bellevue, Kenmore, Mercer Island, North Bend and Sammamish. The city of Bellevue has approved a request from the company to send mixed paper collected through April 20 to the landfill.

More than half of the 1,000 tons of mixed paper collected in Bellevue cannot be sent to China due to contamination.

This decision stems from regulations recently imposed by China, which implemented a 0.5 percent contamination limit on mixed paper. This has led to mixed paper accumulating at Republic Services’ collection facility and creating a potential public health hazard.

Bellevue Utilities spokesperson Michael May said the city’s decision was a recognition that the Chinese recycling market had essentially been closed. As a condition of allowing the waste management service to landfill mixed paper, which includes items like magazines, letters and other paper products, Republic Services must seek out an alternative buyer for recycled goods.

Republic Services is also changing how it sorts recycled materials by slowing processing lines, adding employees and improving optical sorting equipment with the goal of hitting the 0.5 percent contamination mark. May said the new regulations have been effecting not only Bellevue, but the whole West Coast recycling industry.

Contamination comes in many forms, ranging from uncleaned spaghetti cans to water damage. If recycling material is rained on, it is considered contaminated as well.

May stressed the importance of properly recycling materials, namely cleaning, emptying and drying recyclables.

“Just recycle right, if in doubt throw it out,” he said. “Don’t just put anything in there and I think that’s a lot of it, people can do more harm in their recycling.”

China has historically been one of the largest importers of recycled material, but announced it would be severely restricting imports of recycled material last summer. This has sent the world’s recycling industry scrambling as it seeks out alternative ways to unload the materials.

Republic Services has found other markets for recyclables such as cardboard, tin, glass and aluminum, according to Bellevue’s website. Food scraps and yard debris are processed into compost and sold locally.

Residents should continue to place mixed paper into recycling bins but make sure to sort it.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Sound Publishing file photo)
House Democrats lay out massive $26B transportation package funded by gas tax hike

An 18-cent gas tax increase and a fee on carbon emissions would fund new roads and more.

File photo
Report: 70 percent of gun deaths in Washington are attributable to suicide

Research done at The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview… Continue reading

June 2018 algae bloom. Photo courtesy of Department of Ecology
Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten health of Puget Sound

Wastewater treatment plants account for about 70% of the excess nutrients.

Robert Allen, 61, had never been homeless in his life before 2019, when he lost his housing. The chef has been trying to get back on his feet, and hopes to open a nonprofit and make hot sauce. File photo
King County implements 0.01% sales tax to raise money for housing the homeless

Officials plan to buy hotels, motels and nursing homes for conversion into permanent housing.

Teaser
Social media site Parler returns after registering with Sammamish company

The right-wing social media website is not being hosted by Epik, but registered its domain.

Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo
State lawmakers propose bill to fast-track the governor’s reopening plan

Bill’s sponsors want to give legislature control over COVID-19 restrictions.

Fentanyl. (Courtesy photo)
King County reports record numbers of drug overdose deaths

Preliminary toxicology testing shows most overdose victims used multiple types of drugs.

Jay Inslee takes the oath of office for his third term as governor. (Governor Jay Inslee)
Governor Inslee: We are going forward toward a ‘new normal’

At the start of an historic third term, the governor is charting a course out of the pandemic.

Most Read