Recycling Costs and the New Normal

If you manage waste related costs for a business, organization, facility or municipality, you may have noticed that your recycling costs have increased over the past year. Well, you are not alone. Municipalities, companies and facilities all over the US have noticed a major shift over the past year because China has decided to no longer purchase plastics from our country. China has determined that the plastics from the United States are too dirty to effectively recycle, and has implemented very strict guidelines for plastics being imported. This eliminates the largest market for these items, resulting in a crippling effect for recycling facilities.

Anyone in the waste industry will tell you that there are some major challenges when it comes to recycling. A lot of these challenges stem from a misunderstanding or lack of awareness surrounding the recycling process. For example, a discarded pizza box with grease and bits of cheese attached is not recyclable. It needs to go out with the trash. Glass is something most people think is easily recyclable, but most recycling centers do not want glass at all. Plastic containers and products have become the biggest challenge with China no longer accepting plastics. A large reason, these items are a low value, and have been consistently contaminated with food.

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that municipalities and organizations used to get compensated for recycled materials like it was any other commodity. Now, the market for that commodity has all but dried up, and rather than being paid for recycled waste, entities are having to pay to have it removed. Furthermore, in some cases, these materials are ending up being incinerated or being put in landfills.

How can we help?

First things first, we recommend a full waste audit for any organization or business that has not reexamined their services for a number of years. The changes in the recycling market have led to some waste service providers passing along excessive fees to all sorts of customers. Our first task would be to eliminate any excessive charges related to recycling waste removal.

Secondarily, we should look at waste streams. We can determine based on the market conditions of your business, what is best to recycle, and what is best to trash. The recycling is under major scrutiny right now, so it is best to review your programs today to ensure long term sustainable recycling programs.

If your business could benefit from a waste audit, talk to a waste professional at ASI Waste today!