The recession will not be recycled

by
08recyclexlarge1

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

Uh oh, looks like trash ain’t worth what it used to be.  The Times reports today that recycled materials like plastic and cardboard, once sold as scap for  a profit, are piling up because no one wants to buy junk anymore.   It’s a development that sadly takes a big bite out of a cost/benefits argument for public recycling programs.  Cities don’t seem to be cutting back on collection just yet, but the figures are dramatic.

On the West Coast, for example, mixed paper is selling for $20 to $25 a ton, down from $105 in October, according to Official Board Markets, a newsletter that tracks paper prices. And recyclers say tin is worth about $5 a ton, down from $327 earlier this year. There is greater domestic demand for glass, so its price has not fallen as much.

Apparently China used to buy a lot of our junk but stopped doing so when the economy turned.  Perhaps the conversation can now turn to reducing the amount of junk Americans create in the first place.

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6 Responses to “The recession will not be recycled”

  1. dumpstertaoist Says:

    I’d certainly be happy if the conversation went that way. The simplest solution is not to create junk, instead of recycling it. Recycling is at huge odds with capitalism, so real change will come along with things like universal health care. Here’s a few ideas for the far future:

    1. Packaging committee: all goods sold in US must be sold in environmentally friendly packaging that biodegrades or is returnable for deposit refund. All packaging must be approved by committee.

    2. Mandatory e-waste disposal fee and deposit on all electronic goods. All good are returnable to store or facility. Deposit refunded on return. The amount of the fee is based on life expectancy of product. Short life, bigger fee.

    Since the majority of waste in landfills is commerical/industrial and not household, I say a

    3. Business recycling inspector

    would be a good idea.

    I think recycling paper is a waste of time, personally, so wouldnt worry about it.

    -z

  2. divaruby Says:

    Its a GOOD thing that China will not be accepting our waste!

    60 minutes had a story about the problems with China accepting e-waste from the USA, check it out HERE

    includes footage of Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network, a group working to stop the dumping of toxic materials in poor countries that certifies ethical e-waste recyclers in the United States

  3. everydaytrash Says:

    Thanks for the link, Ruby!

    DT, you have finally convinced me I need to sit down and plug out some e-waste posts. I love the packaging committee idea. Tangible proposals like that are few and far between. We need to come up with more recommendations.

  4. Quick Green Reads For The Weekend Volume Ninety Five. | The Good Human Says:

    […] Uh oh, looks like trash ain’t worth what it used to be. The Times reports today that recycled materials like plastic and cardboard, once sold as scrap for a profit, are piling up because no one wants to buy junk anymore. It’s a development that sadly takes a big bite out of a cost/benefits argument for public recycling programs. Cities don’t seem to be cutting back on collection just yet, but the figures are dramatic. […]

  5. Matt SF Says:

    I saw a similar report currently affecting the UK. Their cardboard recycling factories are considering shutting down b/c the necessary profits are no longer there… a price decline ~ 75% for their recycled goods.

    Apparently, all that “stuff” that American consumers used to buy aren’t being bought anymore. Therefore, China has no reason to buy recycled cardboard to package & ship our useless junk. Problem is, the UK will likely stick that garbage in landfills.

    Got to love trickle down economics!!!

  6. everydaytrash Says:

    Ugh, so depressing. Thanks for the UK update, Matt.

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