Chicago (IL) – The downward spiral of our economy seems to have annihilated the market for recycled materials such as plastic, cardboard, metal, and newspaper. All over the country these materials are accumulating by the ton, in junk yards and warehouses of recycling contractors who can’t find buyers, or refuse to sell at rock-bottom prices.
Typically these materials would be used in the production of car parts, electronic boxes, and book covers. However with the scrap market in a slump, our waste products are heading towards our landfills rather than being recycled.
The issues with the recyclables are that they start to cost recycling companies money when there is no market for them. And at this point, these products have no other option but to go to the landfill. In West Virginia, some residents were asked to being stockpiling their own plastic and metals because the county could no longer take them. In Pennsylvania a small town, Frackville suspended its recycling program because dumping is less expensive.
There is no indication that recycling programs will be abandoned nationwide, however after many years of growth, the industry is facing a slow down.
Many of the larger recycling companies are claiming that they have been accumulating too much material, because they have contracts with larger cities to continue to take the scrap and waste or they are hoping for an increase in price within the next six months to a year.
On the West Coast, mixed paper is currently selling for $20 to $25 per ton, which is down from $105 in October. Tin is currently worth $5 per ton; earlier in the year it was worth $327. The scrap market constantly fluctuates due to markets for new product. For example cardboard is used for electronics and other packages, rubber is used for shoe soles and metal is turned into auto parts.
One of the major reasons for the decline in price this time is the demand from China: China is the largest export market for recyclables, but the country’s demand has dwindled with the slowing economy. China’s influence is so tremendous that recyclables are worth the least in locations of the U.S. where there is no easy access to ports.