How the US Recycling Industry Is Affected by China’s Changing Standards

For more than two decades, the United States has exported plastic and paper waste to China, which then recycled the waste into goods. The arrangement has stopped benefitting China because the nation's economic growth has increased domestic waste and their recycling industry is overwhelmed. Starting in January 2018, China banned the import of plastic waste.

The ban doesn’t just affect the U.S.; the U.K., the EU, and Japan have also been exporting waste to China. China was importing an estimated 45 percent of the developed world’s trash.

By the end of 2019, China will ban the import of dozens of materials for recycling, mostly scrap metals. Industry experts estimate that over 750,000 metric tons of waste will be affected. Adding this to the estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic affected equals massive amounts of recyclable material. The recycling industry needs to warehouse all this waste until they make new plans. In the Long Beach, California area, companies have been renting 60,000-square foot warehouses to store their recycling.

Industry experts indicate that long-term storage at material recovery facilities is necessary because no solution is forthcoming. The recycling industry must find innovative ways to keep up with the backlog of recycling.

Material Recovery Facilities

Alaska Structures® produces tensioned fabric structures designed meet the immediate and ongoing needs of the recycling industry. With the uncertainty following China’s ban on certain imports, material recovery facilities need to be flexible in their designs. Modular fabric buildings can be custom-designed to allow for changes including expansion, rapid setup and take down for easy transport and relocation, and the unmatched ability to be reconfigured for different applications …features that permanent structures do not offer.

GTX Series

The GTXTM Series of gable truss buildings from Alaska Structures are engineered clear span warehouses and designed to meet local building codes. With widths from 16 to 150 feet and to any length or height, the GTX series can meet the storage needs of the recycling industry.

MTX Series

Engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures can be considered instant structures, capable of storing the tons of materials waiting for recycling, as well as the vehicles and equipment needed to collect and deposit the waste. Our MTXTM Series of fabric buildings a large single-arch structure and offer the ability to quickly create material and waste storage facilities. Choose from a large selection of equipment and personnel door sizes.

Portable, Customizable, and Durable Fabric Buildings

Alaska Structures material recovery facilities, material storage facilities, warehouses, and equipment storage facilities have offered solutions to the waste management and recycling industries for more than 40 years. Engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures have been configured to meet the many needs of the recycling industry, including the following:

  • Enclosures for Waste Balers, Separators, Bag Openers, Shredders, Reel Splitters, and Wrapping Machines
  • Conveyor Belt Enclosures
  • Sorting Facilities
  • Material Recovery Facilities
  • Recycling Centers and Transfer Stations

Fabric Structures with Minimal Foundation Requirements

The minimal foundation requirements of our engineered fabric structures are designed for quick installations onto virtually any level surface. Whether you need a permanent building or temporary structure with the ability to move from one location to another, Alaska Structures produces modular building systems designed to securely anchor to many surface types, including: wood platforms, concrete slabs or footers, ISO containers, precast concrete blocks, or directly to the ground (dirt, sand, and gravel).

High-Strength Frame Systems

Our metal frame systems are engineered to withstand harsh climates. The high-quality materials used to construct our frames systems ensures unmatched strength and long-lasting performance. The MTX Series of fabric buildings utilize a lightweight frame system made of aircraft grade aluminum, perfect for material recovery facilities or recycling centers that need to be relocated frequently. The GTX Series from Alaska Structures employ a high-strength and double-truss frame system made of galvanized steel.

Optional in-house powder coating is available and provides our aluminum or steel framed buildings with an additional layer of protection from salt air, humidity, and corrosive chemicals used in the recycling process.

Long-Lasting Tensioned Fabric Membranes

The fabric membranes produced by Alaska Structures are engineered using a proprietary blend of the highest quality materials to ensure durability and longevity, even in extreme hot, humid, and cold climates. Our fabric membranes will not rot, offer superior abrasion resistance, will resist mold and mildew, are chemically inert, and are UV-stabilized for prolonged exposure to high solar loads. With the recycling industry in flux and without a clear solution, there is an indeterminate wait and immediate need for waste and recycling storage facilities. Instant structures offer waste management and recycling centers a quick building solution to meet the immediate storage needs of excess materials and easily reconfigured or relocated as needs change.

Innovative Fabric Building Design Options

Alaska Structures’ building systems used for material recovery or to house equipment needed for the successful operation of a recycling center, are easily expanded and reconfigured. Our engineered fabric buildings provide building solutions for waste and vehicle storage, as well as for office space. We offer many options for windows, doors, and soft- and hard-wall partition systems to maximize the use of interior space. Plug-and-play lighting and electrical systems, including LED stadium lighting, are available in 50 Hz and 60 Hz, reduce the need for expensive electricians1 and offer energy savings. Alaska Structures produces HVAC systems designed to seamlessly integrate with our building systems and offer a greater degree of portability and rugged durability than commercially available HVAC systems.

Increase Energy Efficiency with a Fabric Building

All Alaska Structures building systems can be equipped with insulation packages, increasing the energy-efficiency of heating or cooling, providing a greater degree of comfort for workers and staff. Our proprietary insulation systems are engineered to meet any R-value.

Utilize translucent skylight material and take advantage of natural light during the day, creating a bright and safe work environment while reducing energy usage and cost.

Fabric Warehouse Solutions for the Recycling Industry

The recycling industry faces an uncertain future as this export ban unfolds. Innovative ideas like engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures to store excess recycling and waste materials offer industry-leading design and the ability to install a warehouse structures in a fraction of the time compared to steel buildings, concrete tilt-up buildings, wood built structures, or brick and mortar warehouse facilities. They are able to meet the immediate needs of waste management and recycling centers, provide a greater degree of energy efficiency, and are easily moved or reconfigured for alternative uses in the future.

Call us today to get started on designing a recycling center or a warehouse solution for storing waste and recycling materials:

¹ A certified electrician may be required to connect the electrical distribution panel to shore power or local power utility. Please check with your local or state requirements.

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