SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — Santa Cruz County is asking residents to reduce their use of plastics after reduced global demand has made recycling much of it unprofitable.
Part of the trouble is that the relatively low cost of crude oil makes it cheaper to make plastic products from raw materials.
Up until recently, county residents could bring their recycling to Buena Vista Landfill, where California Grey Bears would accept it and sort it for shipping.
But now there are few buyers for bulk recycled material, said Grey Bears Executive Director Tim Brattan.
In addition, the organization loses money on the deal, since it has to pay processing companies $300 for every bin of plastics that is hauled away, which occurred about twice a week. Brattan said.
“There are no real solutions domestically for that material,” he said. “It’s created a market where there are no buyers.”
Until further notice, Brattan said the organization no longer accept colored plastic bags, plastic and food containers labeled with the numbers #1-7, and hard plastics such as toys, play structures and patio furniture at either of its recycling centers.
“The bottom line is that nobody is happy about this,” he said. “We just want the public to consider their purchases and try to not buy things made with plastic.”
To help reduce the use of plastics, county officials advise residents to do the following:
• Shop at farmers’ markets
• Skip the plastic bag when buying produce
• Bring containers from home and buy in bulk
• Avoid products with excess packaging
• Don’t buy bottled water – most is just repackaged tap water
• Bring your own travel mug to the coffee shop
• Say no to plastic straws
• Bring your own shopping bag
For information, visit www.santacruzcountyrecycles.org. For a list of products still accepted at the landfill, visit www.greybears.org.