Centre County Recycling Largely Unaffected By New Chinese Policies

Apr 9, 2019

Recycling authorities that used to depend on China to take their materials need new ways to dispose of or sell the material. Some communities have resorted to using landfills, incineration or stockpiling.

But in Centre County, China’s new policy hasn’t been an issue for a simple reason.

We don’t export material to China. We never have,” said Joanne Shafer, Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority deputy director. 

Shafer said the national concerns about recycling haven’t affected Centre County in any major way.

“People care so much about recycling, and they start to hear these national articles, and right away they assume it’s the same everywhere and it’s not," Shafer said. 

Shafer said prices are down for some materials, but fluctuations are normal. 

“Recycling commodities are up, they’re down. Right now they’re down," Shafer said. "I’ve seen them low; I’ve seen them lower.”

The authority receives about 15,000 tons of recyclable material every year, and sends shipments out every day. Shafer said most is sent to buyers in-state, while a few products are sent out-of-state or to Canada.

Shafer, who’s worked for the authority for 29 years, said she’s optimistic.

“Nobody’s getting rich from recycling right now," Shafer said. "We’re definitely in a down market. But can we weather this storm? You bet we can."