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New recycling rules in Olympia eliminate glass and more from bins

Changes implemented by the city are a direct result of China’s recent decision to stop processing glass and other waste.

Editor's note: The above video previously aired on KING 5 in 2019.

Changes to Olympia’s recycling program took effect Jan. 1 and it means glass bottles and jars must be thrown in the trash instead of the recycle. 

The new guidelines remove glass, aseptic containers (soy milk cartons), and poly-coated containers (milk/juice cartons, frozen food boxes) from the list of materials the city deems recyclable.

The glass must now be thrown away or taken to a processing plant by hand. Other non-recyclables cannot be taken elsewhere and must be thrown directly into the garbage.

These changes are a direct result of China's policy changes in 2018 that have halted the processing of recyclables like glass. Glass is notoriously difficult to recycle, as the material must be clean enough to make it through factory machinery and profitable to the business. These items often end up in landfills anyway. 

Olympia estimates the change will save the city and consumers around $100,000 a year.

Officials encourage residents to continue recycling what they are able and follow guidelines as closely as they can. 

Education and information will be available to inform residents of the change. Monitors will also examine levels of glass. If consumers continue to recycle high levels of glass, their bins may be taken away. No other disciplinary actions are expected at this time.

Glass processing plants in Olympia:

  • City of Olympia Saturday Drop-off Site
    1000 10th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501
    Glass-only bin available 24/7
  • Yauger Park
    503 Alta St SW, Olympia, WA 98502
    Glass-only bin available dawn-dusk daily
  • Concrete Recyclers
    2935 Black Lake Blvd SW, Tumwater, WA 98512
    Open Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Thurston County Transfer Station
    2418 Hogum Bay Rd, Lacey, WA 98516
    Open 8 a.m.-4:445 p.m. daily

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