By Christina Weiler, Colgate University, Founder of UCan Nonprofit Organization; Christopher Galantino, Cornell University, President Cornell Sustainability Consultants; Rob Watson, Chief Science Officer, Eco-Hub LLC. Founder & Co-chair SWEEP Standard

Earlier this month, we published a piece based on Waste Dive’s excellent ongoing investigation of the effects of China’s material import ban on America’s recycling infrastructure. The analysis was performed on a state-by-state basis and categorized impacted recycling infrastructure as either “Minimal,” “Noticeable,” or “Heavy.” Minimal indicated no major issues in program scope or performance, Noticeable indicated slower facility output and recycling program cuts under consideration or being implemented, and Heavy indicated shrunken or vanished markets, significantly cut back programs, and recyclables being landfilled instead of being processed for reuse.

Because the market is changing rapidly and we’d like to update this piece often, here are the latest highlights for the month of July (as of 7/20).

Since June 2018, the conditions of 5 states have declined while only 2 have improved. Nevada recovered from Heavy to Noticeable impact and South Dakota recovered from Noticeable to Minimal. However, the states of Arizona, Washington D.C., Georgia, Illinois, and Michigan have all climbed from Minimal to Noticeable impact while New York has increased from Noticeable to High impact. Table 1 provides a visual representation of this data.

All together, July 2018 observes 78% of total states identifying as either Noticeable or Heavy, representing 88.2% of the US GDP and 89% of the US population. Compared to June 2018, where 68% of total states identified as Noticeable or Heavy, representing 75% of the nation’s GDP and 72% of the nation’s population, these numbers are significant.

We will continue to track and discuss Waste Dive’s analysis as it is published. Stay tuned for a series, of which this is the second edition.

Table 1: States and Current Impact Category (7/20)

State Impact Category Status
Alabama M
Alaska H
Arizona N
Arkansas M
California H
Colorado N
Connecticut N
Delaware N
District of Columbia N
Florida N
Georgia N
Hawaii H
Idaho H
Illinois N
Indiana N
Iowa N
Kansas N
Kentucky M
Louisiana M
Maine N
Maryland N
Massachusetts H
Michigan N
Minnesota N
Mississippi M
Missouri N
Montana H
Nebraska N
Nevada N
New Hampshire N
New Jersey N
New Mexico H
New York H
North Carolina H
North Dakota M
Ohio M
Oklahoma M
Oregon H
Pennsylvania N
Rhode Island N
South Carolina N
South Dakota M
Tennessee M
Texas N
Utah N
Vermont N
Virginia N
Washington H
West Virginia M
Wisconsin N
Wyoming N


Table 2 – Waste Dive Report: Impact of China Import Ban on Recycling in US States

Date Minimal Impact States Noticeable Impact States Heavy Impact States % of US GDP Impacted States % of US population Impacted States
Nov 2017 34 12 4 28 26
Jan 2018 28 16 6 44.3 41.4
Feb 2018 27 15 8 45.7 43.3
Mar 2018 25 15 10 51.5 49.1
Apr 2018 25 16 10 59.6 58.3
Jun 2018 16 24 10 75.2 72
Jul 2018 11 28 11 88.2 89

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