Idaho Falls will no longer offer paper and plastic recycling for residents, after the plant it had been using in Utah closed down.
Pacific Steel and Recycling informed the city sanitation department on Thursday that Revolve, the facility in Logan where they had been taking those recyclable materials for the city, had abruptly closed. The Herald Journal reported on Tuesday that Revolve had closed due to "certain circumstances" and had not said what would be done with the materials that were already collected.
Unable to find another nearby company that could handle those materials, Pacific told the city it would need to stop collecting those materials.
"The global market is so depressed for plastic right now and we are not able to afford shipping those materials further than Utah," said Kevin Greener, Pacific's branch manager in Idaho Falls.
China had imported several hundred thousand tons of recycling each year until it banned most paper and plastic from being imported in early 2018. Malaysia and Vietnam have also cut back on imports since then, leading to months of instability as companies and cities scrambled to find new countries willing to handle the material.
The New York Times reported in March that hundreds of cities across the country, including Philadelphia and Memphis, that had begun to reduce or eliminate recycling programs because China had stopped accepting them.
This year, Idaho Falls Sanitation was projected to recycle 1,000 tons of material that could have ended up in the Bonneville County landfill.
Idaho Falls will continue to recycle aluminum, cardboard, glass and tin at the 13 public drop-off sites for materials. City spokeswoman Kerry Hammon said residents would need to reach out to private companies to see if they would be able to recycle paper and plastic on a smaller scale.
Western Recycling, which does curbside recycling in Idaho Falls for $10 a month, told the Post Register they are still able to recycle paper and plastics 1 and 2 for Idaho Falls customers.