NewsCovering Kern County


Recycling plants filling up fast after China regulations go into effect

Posted at 11:35 PM, Feb 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-13 02:36:53-05

China has basically closed its doors to the world when it comes to accepting recyclables. New regulations are taking a serious toll on recycling plants all over the country, including right here in Kern County.

Up until last year, California sold 82% of the state’s recyclables to China.

But effective January 1, China cracked down on the cleanliness of the materials imported into their borders. There were 24 recycle materials banned along with anything more than 1% contaminated.

Metropolitan Recycling in Bakersfield says with these regulations, the country has become 1300% more particular.

Jacob Panero from Metropolitan Recycling says it’s a standard that has proved to be costly and timely.

“We have too much inbound material because we are having to process so slow to get the quality that the markets are looking for,” said Panero.

Even after Metropolitan added more labor, they say they have slowed down to processing about half of what they could before.

There are hundreds of bails of material outside of the facility that weren't there before the regulation. After just 6 weeks, more than 600,000 pounds of excess material are the result.

But regardless of the pileup—material from blue bins all over Kern County has to be picked up every day.

Meaning hundreds of tons of what was once valuable recyclable material could soon overflow into landfills and become useless.

Panero says with the price to process going up 60 to 70 %, that could eventually come as a cost to Kern County residents.

So what can you do to help? 

Be mindful of what you are putting into your blue recycle bin and make sure it is clean material.


Do not put these items in your blue bin:

  • wood
  • clothing
  • plastic bags
  • electronics/appliances
  • rubber or hard plastics
  • toys
  • mirrors
  • take-out containers
  • needles or lancets
  • batteries or light bulbs