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American recyclers have been forced to do more of the processing of plastics themselves now that it’s not so easy to outsource it to foreign markets in China, Malaysia and elsewhere.

Dear EarthTalk: Since China stopped accepting American recyclables for processing in 2017, is it still worthwhile for us to even bother recycling here in the U.S.? — Jim M., Norfolk, Virginia

The short answer is yes, it’s still worthwhile for us to recycle, even if it’s not as easy and more expensive than it used to be — especially when you consider the costly and environmentally dubious alternative of creating new products out of all-virgin materials. That said, China’s decision to stop accepting most recyclables from other countries beginning in January 2018, did send shockwaves around the world. For the previous 25 years, China was gladly importing more than half of the world’s plastic garbage for reprocessing into new products.

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