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Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not

来源:纽约时报    2018-05-30 05:48

        Oregon is serious about recycling. Its residents are accustomed to dutifully separating milk cartons, yogurt containers, cereal boxes and kombucha bottles from their trash to divert them from the landfill. But this year, because of a far-reaching rule change in China, some of the recyclables are ending up in the local dump anyway.        俄勒冈州对废品回收是认真的。当地居民已经习惯了要将牛奶纸盒、酸奶容器、麦片盒和红茶菌瓶子从垃圾中分出来,这样它们就不会送到垃圾填埋场。但今年,由于在中国作出了一个影响深远的规则变化,一些可回收物最终还是被丢弃在了当地的垃圾场。
        In recent months, in fact, thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of American cities and towns — including several in Oregon — have gone to landfills.        事实上,近几个月来,数十个美国城镇,包括俄勒冈州的几个在内,数以千吨计留在路边的回收材料被送到了垃圾填埋场。
        In the past, the municipalities would have shipped much of their used paper, plastics and other scrap materials to China for processing. But as part of a broad antipollution campaign, China announced last summer that it no longer wanted to import “foreign garbage.” Since Jan. 1 it has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, and tightened standards for materials it does accept.        在过去,地方政府会把他们用过的大多数纸张、塑料和其他废品运到中国进行处理。但作为一场广泛反污染运动的一部分,中国在去年夏天宣布,不再进口“洋垃圾”。“自1月1日起,中国禁止进口各类塑料和纸张,并提高了那些它接受的材料的标准。
        While some waste managers already send their recyclable materials to be processed domestically, or are shipping more to other countries, others have been unable to find a substitute for the Chinese market. “All of a sudden, material being collected on the street doesn’t have a place to go,” said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the largest waste managers in the country.        虽然一些废品公司已经改为在国内处理可回收材料,或者把更多材料运往其他的国家,但也有一些废品公司一直未能找到中国的替代市场。美国最大的废品管理公司之一共和服务(Republic Services)负责回收和可持续发展的副总裁皮特·凯勒(Pete Keller)说:“突然间,在街头收集的废品没有地方可去了。”
        China’s stricter requirements also mean that loads of recycling are more likely to be considered contaminated if they contain materials that are not recyclable. That has compounded a problem that waste managers call wishful or aspirational recycling: people setting aside items for recycling because they believe or hope they are recyclable, even when they aren’t.        由于中国的要求更严格了,这意味着如果废品中含有不可回收的材料,则更有可能被视为污染物。这令废品公司称之为一厢情愿或目的型回收的问题复杂化了:人们之所以把物品单独放在一边用来回收,是因为他们相信或希望它们可以被回收再利用,即使它们不能。
        In the Pacific Northwest, Republic has diverted more than 2,000 tons of paper to landfills since the Chinese ban came into effect, Mr. Keller said. The company has been unable to move that material to a market “at any price or cost,” he said. Though Republic is dumping only a small portion of its total inventory so far — the company handles over five million tons of recyclables nationwide each year — it sent little to no paper to landfills last year.        凯勒说,自从中国的禁令生效以来,共和服务在西北太平洋地区已经将2000多吨废纸转移到了垃圾填埋场。他说,公司无法“以任何价格或成本”将这些材料转移到别的市场。虽然共和服务到目前为止只倾弃了其总库存的一小部分——该公司每年在全美国处理500多万吨可再生材料——但它去年很少,甚至根本没有将废纸送到垃圾填埋场。
        But for smaller companies, like Rogue Disposal and Recycling, which serves much of Oregon, the Chinese ban has upended operations. Rogue sent all its recycling to landfills for the first few months of the year, said Garry Penning, a spokesman.        但对于小公司,比如为俄勒冈州大部分地区提供服务的罗格处理回收(Rogue Disposal and Recycling)而言,中国的禁令已经令业务倾覆。这家公司的发言人加里·潘宁(Garry Penning)表示,今年的头几个月,它把所有可回收物都送到了垃圾填埋场。
        Western states, which have relied the most on Chinese recycling plants, have been hit especially hard. In some areas — like Eugene, Ore., and parts of Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii — local officials and garbage haulers will no longer accept certain items for recycling, in some cases refusing most plastics, glass and certain types of paper. Instead, they say, customers should throw these items in the trash.        最依赖中国回收厂的西部州受到的打击尤为严重。在一些地区,比如俄勒冈的尤金、爱达荷部分地区、华盛顿、阿拉斯加和夏威夷,当地官员和垃圾运输车将不再接受某些回收物,在某些情况下拒绝接受大多数塑料、玻璃和某些类型的废纸。相反,他们说,消费者应该把这些东西扔进垃圾桶。
        Theresa Byrne, who lives in Salem, Ore., said the city took too long to inform residents that most plastics and egg and milk cartons were now considered garbage. “I was angry,” she said. “I believe in recycling.”        住在俄勒冈萨利姆的特雷莎·伯恩(Theresa Byrne)表示,该市拖了太久才通知居民,大多数塑料制品、鸡蛋和牛奶盒现在都被视为垃圾。“我很生气,”她说。“我相信回收的理念。”
        Other communities, like Grants Pass, Ore., home to about 37,000 people, are continuing to encourage their residents to recycle as usual, but the materials are winding up in landfills anyway. Local waste managers said they were concerned that if they told residents to stop recycling, it could be hard to get them to start again.        其他社区,比如约3.7万人的俄勒冈格兰茨帕斯,则继续鼓励居民像往常一样回收,但这些材料仍会被堆到填埋场。当地的废品公司表示,他们担心,如果让居民停止回收,以后可能很难让他们再重新开始。
        The fallout has spread beyond the West Coast. Ben Harvey, the president of E.L. Harvey & Sons, a recycling company based in Westborough, Mass., said that he had around 6,000 tons of paper and cardboard piling up, when he would normally have a couple hundred tons stockpiled. The bales are filling almost half of his 80,000-square-foot facility.        这个附带效应已扩散到西海岸以外。本·哈维(Ben Harvey)是总部位于马萨诸塞州韦斯特堡的(E.L. Harvey & Sons)回收公司的总裁,他说他的公司通常有几百吨的库存,现在堆积了大约6000吨的废纸和纸板。在他约7400平方米的场地中,几乎有一半的空间里已经被废品包填满。
        “It’s really impacted our day-to-day operations,” Mr. Harvey said. “It’s stifling me.”        “这确实影响了我们的日常运营,”哈维说。“真让我透不过气来。”
        Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives.        加拿大、澳大利亚、英国、德国和欧洲其他地区的回收商也在匆忙寻找替代。
        Still, across much of the United States, including most major cities, recycling is continuing as usual. Countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are importing more of the materials that are not processed domestically. And some waste companies have responded to China’s ban by stockpiling material while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy.        尽管如此,在美国许多地区,包括大部分重要城市,回收仍在照常进行。印度、越南和印度尼西亚等国正在进口更多并非本国加工的材料。一些垃圾公司已经通过储备材料来应对中国的禁令,同时寻找新的加工商,或指望中国重新考虑其政策。
        Americans recycle roughly 66 million tons of material each year, according to the most recent figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, about one-third of which is exported. The majority of those exports once went to China, said David Biderman, the executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, a research and advocacy group.        据环境保护局(Environmental Protection Agency)最新数据显示,美国人每年回收约6600万吨材料,其中约三分之一出口。研究和倡导组织北美固体废弃物协会(Solid Waste Association of North America)总干事戴维·比德曼(David Biderman)说,过去这些出口大部分运往中国。
        But American scrap exports to China fell by about 35 percent in the first two months of this year, after the ban was implemented, said Joseph Pickard, chief economist for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a trade group.        贸易组织美国废料回收行业协会(Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries)首席经济学家约瑟夫·皮卡德(Joseph Pickard)说,今年头两个月,美国对中国的废钢出口下降了约35%,这是禁令实施后的结果。
        “It’s a huge concern, because China has just been such a dominant overseas market for us,” Mr. Pickard said.        “这是一个非常令人担忧的问题,因为中国对我们来说是一个首要的海外市场,”皮卡德说。
        In particular, exports of scrap plastic to China, valued at more than $300 million in 2015, totaled just $7.6 million in the first quarter of this year, down 90 percent from a year earlier, Mr. Pickard said. Other countries have stepped in to accept more plastics, but total scrap plastic exports are still down by 40 percent this year, he said.        皮卡德说,尤其是2015年第一季度对中国出口额超过3亿美元的废塑料,今年第一季度仅为760万美元,同比下降90%。他表示,其他国家已经加入进来,开始接收更多塑料,但今年废塑料出口总量仍下降了40%。
        “There is a significant disruption occurring to U.S. recycling programs,” Mr. Biderman said. “The concern is if this is the new normal.”        “美国的回收计划出现了严重动荡,”比德曼说。“我们担心这会不会是新的常态。”
        Curbside recycling is typically hauled by a private company to a sorting plant, where marketable goods are separated out. Companies or local governments then sell the goods to domestic or overseas processors. Some states and cities prohibit these companies from dumping plastic, paper and cardboard, but some local officials — including in Oregon, Massachusetts and various municipalities in Washington State — have granted waivers so that unmarketable materials can be sent to the landfill.        路边回收通常由私人公司运往分拣工厂,在那里,可销售的商品被分离出来。然后公司或地方政府将货物出售给国内或海外加工商。一些州和城市禁止这些公司丢弃塑料、纸张和纸板,但一些当地官员(包括俄勒冈州、马萨诸塞州,以及华盛顿州的一些城市)已批准豁免,可将无法出售的材料送到垃圾填埋场。
        Recycling companies “used to get paid” by selling off recyclable materials, said Peter Spendelow, a policy analyst for the Department of Environmental Quality in Oregon. “Now they’re paying to have someone take it away.”        回收公司出售可循环利用的材料“在过去会得到报酬,”俄勒冈州环境质量部(Department of Environmental Quality)政策分析员彼得·斯潘德罗(Peter Spendelow)说。“现在他们付钱让别人拿走。”
        In some places, including parts of Idaho, Maine and Pennsylvania, waste managers are continuing to recycle but are passing higher costs on to customers, or are considering doing so.        在一些地方,包括艾奥瓦州、缅因州和宾夕法尼亚州的部分地区,废物管理者正在继续回收利用,但将提高的成本转嫁给客户,或者正在考虑这样做。
        While China has entirely banned 24 materials, including post-consumer plastic and mixed paper, it has also demanded that other materials, such as cardboard and scrap metal, be only 0.5 percent impure. Even a small amount of food scraps or other rubbish, if undetected, can ruin a batch of recycling.        中国完全禁止了包括消费后塑料和混合纸在内的24种材料,同时它还要求其他材料(如纸板和废金属)杂质在0.5%以内。若是有少量的食物残渣或其他垃圾未被发现,可能会导致一整批回收物遭殃。
        Some waste managers say that China’s new contamination standards are impossible to meet, while others are trying to clean up their recycling streams by slowing down their processing facilities, limiting the types of materials they accept or trying to better educate customers on what belongs in the recycling bin.        一些垃圾管理者说,中国污染新标准是不可能达到的,其他一些企业则试图通过采取措施清理回收物流,包括放慢加工设施运行,限制接受的材料类型,以及尝试更好地教育客户垃圾桶中什么样的物品可以回收。
        Mr. Bell, the Waste Management executive, said he had seen everything from Christmas lights to animal carcasses to artillery shells come through the company’s recycling facilities. “Most of our facilities get a bowling ball every day or two,” he said.        废物管理公司主管贝尔说,他在公司的回收设施里见过各种各样的东西,从圣诞灯、动物尸体到炮弹。“我们大部分设施里每隔一两天就会看到一个保龄球,”他说。
        Some materials can ruin a load, he said, while others pose fire or health hazards and can force facilities to slow their operations and in some cases temporarily shut down. (And a bowling ball could do serious damage to the equipment.) Approximately 25 percent of all recycling picked up by Waste Management is contaminated to the point that it is sent to landfills, Mr. Bell said.        他说,有些材料可能会毁掉一批物品,还有一些则会造成火灾或健康危害,并可能迫使设施放慢运行速度,在某些情况下还会导致暂时关闭。(保龄球可能会严重损坏设备。)贝尔说,废物管理公司回收的大约25%的垃圾是被污染的,到了应当被送到垃圾填埋场的地步。
        Recyclers have always disposed of some of their materials. But the percentage has climbed as China and other buyers of recyclable material have ratcheted up quality standards.        回收商一直在自行处置他们的一些材料。但随着中国和其他可回收材料的买家收紧质量标准,自行处置的比例在上升。
        Most contamination, Mr. Bell said, happens when people try to recycle materials they shouldn’t. Disposable coffee cups — which are usually lined with a thin film that makes them liquid-proof but challenging and expensive to reprocess — are an example. Unwashed plastics can also cause contamination.        贝尔说,大多数污染是在人们回收不应该回收的材料时发生的。比如一次性咖啡杯通常衬着防水薄膜,会导致再加工变得困难而且昂贵。未清洗的塑料也会造成污染。
        “If we don’t get it clean, we’re not going to be able to market it, and if we can’t market it unfortunately it’s going to go to the landfill,” said Mr. Penning, the Rogue spokesman. In March, Rogue told customers to put everything in the trash except for corrugated cardboard, milk jugs, newspapers and tin and aluminum cans, which the company is finding domestic markets for, Mr. Penning said.        “如果我们没有把它们清理干净,就无法推向市场,如果我们不能将其推向市场,不幸的是,它们就会进入垃圾填埋场,”罗格公司发言人潘宁说。他说公司在3月告诉客户,除了正在寻找国内市场的瓦楞纸板、牛奶罐,报纸、锡罐以及铝罐,其他物品都要放在垃圾桶里。
        Rogue customers who make mistakes might see an “Oops” sticker the next time they check their recycling bin, he said.        他说,弄错的罗格客户下一次打开回收箱时可能会看到一张写着“Oops”(哎哟)的贴纸。

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