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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Terri Thomas, Waste Reduction Supervisor, Solid Waste Division,  (360) 867-2279
Jeff Harwood, LeMay Inc. (360) 292-7280

LeMay Announces End of Plastic Film Recycling Program

Olympia- LeMay Incorporated, the major waste and recycling collection provider in Thurston County, announced August 1 that they will discontinue collecting plastic film effective October 1 of this year. This includes plastic film pickup service for businesses as well as the plastic film drop box for residents, located at the Waste and Recovery Center. Plastic film collection includes plastic bags, pallet wrap, and plastic strapping.

This decision is based on lack of markets for mixed plastic film, according to LeMay District Manager Jeff Harwood. "Recycling is a business. It takes equipment and staffing to collect recyclables. If nobody will buy the plastic film from us, we can't afford to collect it and warehouse it. If residents and businesses here in the United States don't buy recycled content items, the collected materials have nowhere to go. The market is currently flooded with so much plastic film that the few buyers out there are purchasing only the highest quality film."

LeMay collects more than 15 tons of plastic film each month - around 187 tons annually - from commercial customers and drop boxes. They currently have a surplus of 60 tons of plastic film and no market in which to sell it. Thurston County contacted several people in the plastic bag industry to see if they could provide leads on some markets, since they promote plastic bag recycling. No one responded.

Both LeMay and Thurston County Solid Waste are disappointed to see the program go. "It's unfortunate, but recycling only works when someone can create a new product from old materials," says Solid Waste Reduction Supervisor Terri Thomas. "Recycling is great - we don't discourage it at all - but it's not a magic cure. This is a good reminder about the importance of not generating waste in the first place. Choosing reusable bags instead of plastic ones is a perfect example in this case." County residents use about 90 million plastic shopping bags each year, but less than 5% is recycled nationwide.

Film isn't the only plastic product facing declining markets. China's recent "Operation Green Fence" means they no longer allow some of the imported loads of recyclables they previously accepted. Under the initiative, Chinese customs must reject incoming bales of recyclables with more than 1.5 percent of unacceptable materials. "It's going to shake up the markets for quite a while, but in the long run it may mean we clean up our recyclables and can use American markets more, which are good things," says Harwood.

For more information, contact LeMay at (360) 923-0111.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3