recycling

Jessica Felix / City of Bakersfield Solid Waste Division

Recycling the right materials isn’t just a local issue—it’s international. China has historically been one of the U.S.’s top buyers of recyclables, but for over a year, it’s been putting restrictions on which materials it will import.

Those changes led cities and recyclers to scramble to find markets for their recyclables. Some have launched outreach campaigns to change recycling habits, some are raising rates for waste management, and others are simply stockpiling their recyclables until they can find buyers.

Fresno Department of Public Utilities Instagram

Do you know what can and can’t be recycled? Which bin do you use for your Starbucks cups, your wrapping paper or your greasy pizza box? We wondered, where does everyone go to find these answers? So we sat down with the expert behind Fresno’s Public Utilities Instagram, Xitlaly Ocampo. Ocampo takes questions through the account about what can and can't be recycled, and reminds the public about things like where to recycle batteries, or whether a Christmas tree goes in the green bin.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

On the campus of the Bakersfield ARC, employees can work in a number of places, but one of the noisiest is the material recovery facility. It’s where about half of the city’s recycling is sorted by material.

“On a daily average, we do anywhere from 28 to 35 tons a day,” says Andres Lopez, the Recycling Division Manager at Bakersfield ARC. “So we're doing a good chunk of the city's material.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: Valley Public Radio gets trashy. Do you ever think about what happens to all of your garbage and recyclables? Well, some California cities are getting creative. And what about all of that ridiculous stuff piling up in your garage? There’s a company that wants it.  

We also explore a recycling program in Bakersfield with some novel - and controversial - labor practices.

Plus: Why is so much medical equipment thrown out before it’s expired? A Clovis organization is repurposing supplies from this enormous industry.

Kerry Klein / Julia Lyu Mears

The United States' recycling industry is facing a growing crisis. China earlier this year announced policy changes that restrict its imports of the U.S.’s recyclables—changes with tremendous implications, since a third of the U.S.’s recycling exports have historically gone to China. We explored those policy changes in May, speaking with recycling companies and policy experts about what’s changed, and how to find new markets for all that plastic and paper we can no longer ship overseas.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The trade conflict between the U.S. and China is heating up, and while tariffs on the steel and agriculture industries have taken center stage, the conflict has quietly moved into another less visible sector: It’s greatly disrupted the recycling industry. These new policies are already affecting businesses, but over time they could impact residents and city governments and even undermine state environmental policy.

One of the most controversial issues in the California legislature in recent years is back.  Lawmakers are proposing several bills that would either ban the use of plastic bags, charge fees for single-use bags or both.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento.

This idea has stalled in the legislature year after year, amid strong opposition from plastic bag manufacturers and grocers.  But Democratic Assemblyman Mark Levine says this time will be different.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition, Juanita Stevenson reports on plans by the city of Fresno to privatize residential solid waste. We also talk with Dan Stone of National Geographic who recently wrote about the city's recycling efforts, and find out why Fresno is one of the nation's leaders in this area.