Illinoisans are having trouble figuring out what goes in the recycling bin and, so far, it has cost residents of one city their curbside recycling program. In Illinois, Kankakee’s garbage provider announced that it is stopping curbside recycling service on Sept. 1 in the city.

It’s common, officials said, to see residents putting things like batteries, Christmas lights, garden hoses and half-full plastic containers that should never be recycled into recycling bins. “Those kinds of materials are not accepted and should never have entered a materials recovery facility,” Kaar said. “We don’t know how anyone would think a soiled diaper could be recycled.”

Since January, China has significantly tightened restrictions on the level of contaminated recycling it will buy. That’s taken the profit out of recycling. “China was the major end destination for most of the recyclables collected in the United States,” Kaar said.

This had led to major providers cracking down on what’s worthy of recycling and what’s not. “We have talked to some communities about the quality of their curbside recycling,” said Lisa Disbrow, spokesperson for Waste Management of Illinois. She said changing dynamics with those accepting the waste has created disparities in what is accepted and what the public views as recyclable.

Further south, a large recycling center at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois announced it would close because too many people with access to the base had been dumping construction waste and other non-recyclables materials there. Communities in Indiana also have seen their curbside recycling bins taken away.

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