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Thanks to a new rule in Ada County, you may not be able to recycle these plastics

Republic Services, the trash and recycling provider for Ada County, will no longer accept certain types of plastics in 2018, according to a company statement.

The new guidelines, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, ban recycling plastics numbered 3-7. Items with the numbers 1 and 2 within the recycling symbol are still accepted, which means milk jugs, soda bottles, detergent containers and similar jugs with threaded necks are still okay. (Here’s more on what each number denotes.)

According to Mike Journee, spokesman for the city of Boise, Boise residents can continue recycling all plastic items until the spring.

“We’ve been aware that this is on the horizon, and we’ve taken great care to mitigate (the effects) as much as we can,” Journee said, emphasizing that sustainability is a main goal for Boise’s waste services.

The Republic Services statement attributed the change to “changing global markets.” A Republic Services newsletter explained that the Chinese government altered the makeup of plastics it allows to be imported in an effort to improve the quality of recyclable materials. That means “filmy plastics” like garbage bags, shrink wrap and food containers should be weeded out, according to the waste company.

“It is likely the disruptions overseas will result in additional changes to our local recycling programs,” according to the Republic Services newsletter.

Colin Hickman, spokesman for Boise’s Public Works Department, said Boiseans can expect some sort of change around April 1.

“We are working on a program that will divert a lot of these materials from the landfill,” Hickman said.

Journee added that the city of Boise is “close to finding a solution” but declined to go into more detail on what that might entail.

Republic Services also urged Idahoans to err on the side of caution when determining whether an item is recyclable.

“When in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure if something is recyclable, throw it away and reduce the risk of contamination,” the company said.

Journee said that Boise officials wouldn’t encourage that same approach, but Hickman understands the importance of being discerning.

“There’s wishful recycling,” Hickman said. “Even if it’s not recyclable, people want to do the right thing. Unfortunately that causes contamination.”

The Statesman has reached out to Republic Services for more information. If you have more questions, the company urges you to email csidaho@republicservices.com.

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