2018/19 Plastic Recycling Changes

2018/19 Plastic Recycling Changes

In January 2018, the recycling industry experienced a worldwide upset in the global recycling market caused by China’s shutdown of recycling imports. China was accepting about half of the materials collected as recycling in the U.S.

Locally, this meant that we lost plastic recycling altogether for a year in 2018. Starting March 5th, 2019, Valley Recycling began taking very limited plastics at their facility as part of a pilot program. Only #1 clear bottles and #2 translucent bottles are accepted, in separate containers. It’s essential to keep these bins clean and well-sorted in order to maintain this market option.

Whitefish has continued to accept mixed #1 and #2 plastic, aluminum, and tin until further notice (more info). This program is available for City of Whitefish residents and businesses only and is managed by Republic Services.

Read: Daily Inter Lake Article on recycling changes
Read: Flathead Beacon Article on recycling changes

What you can do

While is truly a global recycling issue, we encourage everyone to take action locally to reduce the impact on our landfill.

  1. Stop using disposable plastics. There are a ton of ways to cut down on plastic waste in your life. Click here for some ideas.
  2. Choose products with recycled content. This helps create a market for our recyclables.
  3. Know what can and can’t be recycled, and only put those items in recycling bins. Did you know there are seven different types of plastic, but only two of them are widely recycled? Look for the triangular recycling symbol — the chasing arrows — on every piece of plastic, and only recycle the ones that have a number 1 or number 2 in the middle. The same goes for all types of recyclables: only the items listed as accepted should go in the bins. Remember — when in doubt, throw it out!
  4. Talk about recycling with others. Many people are “wishful recyclers” and don’t know that their actions are actually hurting recycling efforts. Help reduce contamination by spreading knowledge to your friends, coworkers, and family — the more people we have recycling right, the more viable our local recycling programs become.
  5. Become a recycling ambassador. Help WasteNot spread the word about what can and can’t be recycled. We can use your help at community events, distributing brochures, hanging posters — whatever type of outreach you prefer. Email wastenot@flatheadcitizens.org or call 406-756-8993 to learn more.


  1. Kathy Ross

    I am doing an article on recycling and the information in your website does not look up to date to me. Is plastic still recycled at the locations mentioned and glass is occasionally and even though it is occasionally it is important to mention when and where.

    Also even when there is plastic recycling talked about is there really a source that it is being shipped to for actual recycling? And how far away is that site.? I am encouraging folks to Reuse and reduce because my research is showing that even though something says it is being recycled it often ends up in landfills anyway.
    I think the logo with 1-7 number in it that indicates a container can be recycled is misleading. The public needs to be reeducated with all the changes going on. My research has indicated those numbers are not as important any more. The places that still take plastics are more interested in shape of container to be able to recycle whether it be a #1 or #7. Bottom line very little is recycled any where anymore. Perhaps incinerated hopefully to produce energy.
    I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your feedback.

    1. Debbie

      I took a look at the website and I don’t see any wrong information regarding plastic recycling. You can reach out to Valley Recycling at 406-257-2574, to see what plastics they still accept.

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