GREAT FALLS – The Pacific Steel and Recycling drop-off center is no longer accepting plastic materials.

The company, until recently received between 700 and 900 pounds of plastic waste every two days. They shipped the plastic to a recycling processing center more than 1,200 miles away in Chino, Calif. From Chino, the bulk of that plastic was exported to China.

However, the rapidly-developing industrialized Asian country has stopped accepting foreign plastic recycling in order to begin mitigating major environmental concerns.

“Unfortunately the export market has been in a real bad decline, and the cost of the plastic is greater than what we were getting for it, and the freight just didn’t allow us to keep bringing it into the yard,” explained Pacific Steel Great Falls Branch Assistant Manager, Randy Annis.

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Click here for more information about recycling in Great Falls.

From the Montana Department of Environmental Quality website

Recycling Plastics
The Department of Environmental Quality promotes recycling and works to develop markets for recyclables within the state. Recycling of all plastic bottles is strongly encouraged, primarily PET 1 and HDPE 2 bottles, because there are well-established end-markets for these types of plastics. Markets for recyclables are the key to recycling success. By building these new markets for other types of plastics, the ease of recycling for all types of plastic will be as available as those for HDPE 2.

Developing local businesses or markets for recyclables is key to successful long-term recycling in Montana. Establishing local markets for recycled materials is important for a number of reasons, including: reduced need to transport collected materials over long distances; reduced need to import raw materials and end products; expansion of the local manufacturing sector; creation of employment opportunities; preservation of natural resources; and expansion of the local tax base.

Why Is Recycling Plastics Important?
Recycling and reuse of plastics have the obvious benefit of decreasing the amount of used plastics that end up in landfills. With increased plastics recycling, fewer natural resources need to be extracted to produce virgin plastic. Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from virgin raw materials. Five two-liter recycled PET bottles produce enough fiberfill to make a ski jacket; 36 recycled bottles can make one square yard of carpet.

In addition, a great amount of plastic waste is found in the world’s oceans. “The world now uses 230 million pounds of plastic annually … much of this is for one-trip packaging that is thrown out within a year of production, on average. Because the plastic that enters the ocean tends to fragment, it is likely to remain in the environment for hundreds, if not thousands, of years,” notes Richard Thompson, a researcher at Plymouth University, U.K., who has published two studies on plastics in oceans and the effect on marine animals.