Recycling crisis causes mountains of waste at Marin Recycling Center

MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- A recycling crisis is unfolding for the Bay Area and California as a whole. China, the country which once bought most of our recycled items, has put the brakes on such trade.

Recycling trucks are unloading paper and plastics by the minute at Marin Recycling Center but finding space for all those recyclables has become a giant problem. They are running out of room.

"There's a lot of it. Its doubled since last week," said Kimberly Scheibly, who works at the center.

She isn't joking. There is a mountain of recycled paper bales, 10-feet high, stretching as long as a football field.

In the past, China has purchased 60 percent of all recyclables at the center, but the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S. plus new environmental restrictions on what China will buy, have set new clean standards that are almost impossible to meet.

"China has said no mixed paper, no mixed plastic, no colored cardboard," Scheibly said.

RELATED: San Francisco overhauls its recycling program

There's so much recycled plastic piling outside we needed to fly SKY7 to show it all.

"This is a whole new world," Scheibly added. "The crisis is not expected to end. This is the new normal."

"We're seeing recycling centers struggle to sell materials," said Alexa Bluth, a recycling industry spokesperson who said the problem is statewide.

She added, for now, consumers can help by making sure stuff in the recycle bin is clean before it is thrown out. This will help your local recycling center make your throw-aways more marketable.

"If you put a soiled pizza box or half-full peanut butter jar, you're contaminating everything you've recycled," said Bluth.

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