SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — Many of us who recycle don't think about where our cartons and cans go after they're picked up off the curb. But now, China, which is one of the largest importers of recycled goods, is cracking down on what they accept.
"China buys, for example, 50 percent of the world's paper for recycling,” Waste Management spokeswoman Disbrow said. “And this year they've placed stricter restrictions."
Disbrow has worked for Waste Management for more than 20 years and says now, more than ever, separating recycling is key to make sure it's accepted overseas.
"One bail of recycled material has to be less than .05 percent, or 10 pounds of contamination."
Contaminants could be things like food products, batteries or even propane tanks.
"It's definitely costing some of the recycling facilities more as they have to slow down their processing lines so they can pull these contaminants out of the stream before the material becomes bailed,” Disbrow said.
Experts say this could eventually mean higher prices for people who recycle.
"It’s a lot better for the earth,” Springfield resident Brandon Nizzio said. “It saves on resources and it keeps us from polluting, filling huge holes in the ground."
Some say, to them, it's well worth taking the time to make sure the right things make it into the recycling bin and the wrong things don’t.
"Anytime you can save land, space and resources is always good."
Good things to put in your curb-side recycling bin are things like newspapers, glass and plastic bottles and cans. Avoid putting things like Styrofoam and plastic grocery bags these containers. Many grocery stores do offer containers to help recycle these bags.
Experts at waste management say when in doubt, throw it out. You can call your recycling company to ask if something belongs or not, but if you don't know for sure, it's best to put it in the trash.