The article in the url below provides an update on the downturn in the recycling industry:
"Once a profitable business for cities and private employers alike, recycling in recent years has become a money-sucking enterprise. [States] are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation's busiest facilities here in Elkridge, Md. — but it is still losing money. In fact, almost every facility like it in the country is running in the red. And Waste Management and other recyclers say that more than 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around. … 'If people feel that recycling is important — and I think they do, increasingly — then we are talking about a nationwide crisis,' said David Steiner, chief executive of Waste Management, the nation's largest recycler that owns the Elkridge plant and 50 others."
Due to a combination of falling commodity prices plus a less efficient recycling system (due to the advent of single-source recycling bins that often contain as much trash as they do recyclable materials), the economics of recycling are spiraling downwards:
"'Residue jumped a ton,' said Hallie Clemm, deputy administrator for the city's solid waste management division. In fact, so much nonrecyclable material was being stuffed into the bins that after an audit by Waste Management last fall, the share of the city's profit for selling recyclables plummeted by more than 50 percent. That has driven up the city's processing price for recyclables to almost $63 a ton — 24 percent higher than if it trucked all of its recycling material, along with its trash, to a Virginia incinerator. The D.C. Council recently approved a payment of $1.2 million to Waste Management for the contract year that ended in May. In 2011, the city made a profit of $389,000."
As a result, the amount of our total waste that we are recycling is decreasing:
"[In June] the Environmental Protection Agency announced a nationwide tally for recycling in 2013 that showed overall recycling had contracted for a second straight year, to 34.3 percent of the waste stream."
Have a good weekend.
David Chandler & Bill Werther
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Stakeholders, Globalization, and Sustainable Value Creation (3e)
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American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why
By Aaron C. Davis
June 20, 2015
The Washington Post