Picture of recycled items on a conveyor belt.

What's happening with recycling? 

You may be hearing a lot about recycling in the news recently. At the beginning of this year, China instituted a new policy called “National Sword” that restricts the import of recyclable commodities due to high levels of contamination in the recycling they purchased to make new products. Since China was importing a significant amount of the recycling generated in the U.S., the domestic markets are now flooded with material which has dramatically decreased prices.

Despite all this - keep recycling. Saint Paul’s recyclables are NOT being landfilled and recycling is more important than ever to save natural resources and sustain local jobs.

How does this impact Saint Paul?


Picture of bales of paper and cardboard ready for recycling.

Currently, all of the material collected in Saint Paul is marketed in North America with 90% handled in the Midwest and close to 80% of the sorted material going to markets within Minnesota.

Recyclable materials are not being sent to landfills or Waste to Energy facilities.  Revenue for material has decreased dramatically or occasionally been nonexistent, but Eureka Recycling (Saint Paul's recycling collector and processor) is still able to move all the recyclables they collect.

Programs around the country and in the twin cities metro area are facing tough decisions related to changing pricing structures or program structures and the types of materials they collect.  We continue to work with Eureka Recycling and other communities to maintain sustainable and strong programs. Now, more than ever, we need to improve the quality of materials being collected and processed in our community.

What can I do to help?

- Only recycle items that are accepted in our program. “Wish cycling” – or, putting items in the cart and hoping they get recycled – can increase contamination and costs. Do NOT put plastic bags, hazardous waste, plastic-lined papers, food/liquids, or StyrofoamTM in your recycling cart.

- When in doubt, throw it out – or, call Eureka Recycling at 651-222-7678 to find out for sure whether an item can be accepted for recycling.

- Look for ways to reduce your consumption, especially of single use plastic items like straws, cups, and other packaging. Seek out products sold in bulk, are in refillable or reusable packages and recyclable within our program.

Last Edited: August 24, 2021