Since China has phased out the importation and recycling of waste from countries like the US in recent months, campus recycling is now going straight to incinerators.
China recently halted the import of recycling due an increase in contaminants. As a result, portions of the abundant waste generated on campus can no longer be separated out and sent on a path to reuse.
“I don’t know what the government can or will do to solve this,” said sophomore Isabella Bartos.
China wants a reduction of contaminants on recyclable goods down to 0.5% of the material. “The idea of being an environmentalist means all the little changes you make throughout your day to reduce your carbon footprint add up and end up helping, but the fact that all of our recycling is useless right now is really discouraging,” said the president of the Environmental Club senior Emily Tamkin.
Currently, the scrap materials from the Bay Area can contain up to 25% contaminants, according to WBUR.
The new criteria requires a dramatic change in the methods of preparing waste and many students feel that such a sudden revision is disheartening. “It’s really frustrating that so many people are making such a widespread effort to recycle, and it’s going to waste,” said Tamkin.
“I can’t see our current government making this a top priority,” said Bartos. “The pollution concern has taken a back seat recently, and the health of our planet is a stake.”
While the uncertainty of future recycling contamination requirements renders it impossible to set solid rules, the school administration encourages students to do their part. “I would really like to see the students take the lead on the recycling and compost efforts,” said Associate Principal Laura Lee.
Although it is unlikely that any dramatic shifts will occur until the US government releases new organized regulations for the purity of recycled materials, there are still some things that students can do to improve the current situation. “Here at Campo we could all do a better job of picking up trash and disposing those items into the proper bins,” Lee said.
It is unclear when the campus will see any changes to the current recycling program and student leaders are concerned about the long-term impact this may have on the environment. “The biggest thing is to not use hope in our environmental systems,” said Tamkin. “People might start to get into an apathetic mentality about recycling, which we can’t let happen.”