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Who Buys Recycled Materials From Recycling Centers

Trash sent for recycling moves along a conveyor belt to be sorted at Waste Management's material recovery facility in Elkridge, Md. In 2018, China announced it would no longer buy most plastic waste from places like the United States. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

who buys recycled materials from recycling centers


After a couple of days of this, a woman named Kara Pochiro from the Association of Plastic Recyclers stood up and said not to panic. "Plastic recycling isn't dead, and it works, and it's important to protecting our environment, and it's essential to the circular economy," she reassured.

"Recycling is the underdog," says Keefe Harrison, CEO of the Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit that seeks to boost the industry. "We're fighting an uphill battle to make it cost competitive from day one." One problem, she says, is the U.S. outsourced so much of its recycling to Asia that the domestic industry languished. And there's the fact that plastic manufacturers keep making more and more of it, and consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Walmart keep wrapping more consumer goods in it.

Harrison explains: "So we've got these companies producing this new packaging and new materials and new plastics in such a scientific- and business-driven way, and then [they] rely on the disjointed network that is recycling to get it back. And [recycling] is not robust." That's an assessment shared by others, such as global financial analysis company IHS Markit.

Yes, the supply of available recycled material has increased dramatically over the past eight years. But, no, excess supply of material is not the only reason why current market prices remain depressed. Recycled products are less predictable and more subject to contamination than many of their virgin counterparts. And over the past 50 years, U.S. industry has developed technologies for assuring high-quality, low-contamination virgin raw materials as feedstock. The paper industry, in particular, has continually improved its processes for refining virgin feedstocks. The result: high-quality, low-cost sheets of nonrecycled paper.

The advent of modern recycling, of course, has created a large supply of a new potential feedstock, composed of recovered waste from curbside and office recycling programs. To satisfy the initial consumer demand for recycled paper, manufacturers retrofitted old, outmoded plants and tinkered with existing processes for virgin feedstock. Since the main paper-industry players had no guarantee that buyers would exist for predictable quantities of high-quality recycled feedstock, it made little sense for them to invest in completely new plants and processes. But the result of this tinkering, especially in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was paper that was both more expensive and of lower quality than competing virgin products.

In the global marketplace, competition for recovered material exports is also intense. Asian countries, long a predictable export market for U.S. recycled-paper brokers, are opting to use European paper sources where the material is typically less contaminated and cheaper to transport. U.S. paper exports from 1991 to 1992 dropped by 6.4-million tons (2.3%) for the first time in decades, and the market value of exports fell by 7.9%. As the European waste-management infrastructure becomes increasingly sophisticated, U.S. suppliers have fallen farther behind in 1993.

Strong demand for recycled products ultimately requires that these products, as in the case of steel and aluminum, be cost competitive and of high quality. It also requires that they be available in large enough quantities to allow for economies of scale. By mandating recycling and setting extremely high recovery goals for both paper and plastics, government has challenged U.S. industry to develop the necessary infrastructure for incorporating these materials into manufacturing processes.2 Yet for this challenge to be met, government and industry need to reach an understanding about the complexity of the problem that they are both attempting to tackle.

Ten years ago, small U.S. companies and entrepreneurs were the ones investing in new manufacturing processes because they had the most to gain from entering niches for recycled products. However, as recently as the late 1980s, most large companies were still investing in plant upgrades for handling virgin natural resources. In order to produce recycled products of equivalent quality and price, then, industry must now invest heavily in new technologies. Socially responsible mission statements aside, R&D investment on this scale will occur for only two reasons: anticipated profits and the threat of competition.

However, Bell Atlantic and other utilities can also raise consumer rates to cover additional R&D expenses. This public-private balance of costs is delicate; but it can spur the larger changes a complicated economic issue like recycling requires. Bell has also invested heavily in establishing working phone-book recycling partnerships with local public-sector recycling programs in its service territory. Local recycling coordinators are responsible for setting up the collection and public-education component of the program, while Bell pays for transportation to markets and guarantees that recycled phone books will not be landfilled.

2. Government recycling goals around the United States range from achieving a recycling rate of 25% to one as high as 60%. A recent study commissioned by the EPA indicates that Americans achieved a recycling rate of 17% in 1991.

You can assist the plastic recycling process considerably if you only send plastic to the recycling center that can be recycled. If unsure what plastic can be recycled, click here to read our handy guide.

A tipping fee is a charge paid to the recycling business for each load of waste brought in. This is often seen as a negative because it can act as a deterrent for people wanting to recycle their materials.

If none of these online options for locating recycling centers in your area work for you, you can always call our friendly sales team for more assistance. We can pull from our maps of regional recyclers as well as our extensive database of customer relationships to help you with your search. We can also help you find the right new or used recycling baler solution for your recycling. Give us a call at (507) 886-6666 or fill out this simple form today!

Are recycling centers owned or operated by the State of California? No, recycling centers are not owned or operated by the State of California. All recycling center days and hours of operation are determined and overseen by the individual recycling center operator and must be posted at the center. Most recycling centers are required to be open a minimum of 30 hours per week, and at least five of those hours must be other than Monday-Friday between 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (examples of this are opening earlier than 9:00 a.m., closing later than 5:00 p.m., opening on the weekend, or combining these). Please contact your local recycling center to find out their days and hours of operation. If you would like to report a recycling center closure or file a formal complaint regarding a certified recycling center, or call 1-800-RECYCLE.

There are 1,257 recycling centers statewide that buy back empty California Refund Value (CRV) beverage containers. Most beverages sold in glass, plastic, or metal (other than milk, wine, and distilled spirits) are subject to CRV - More information on beverages subject to CRV is available here

Recycling centers are not owned or operated by the State of California. All recycling center days and hours of operation are determined and overseen by the individual recycling center operator and must be posted at the center. Centers are required to be open a minimum of 30 hours per week, at least five days a week, and at least one weekend day.

Recycling in the U.S. is broken. In 1960, Americans generated 2.68 pounds of garbage per day; by 2017, it had grown to an average of 4.51 pounds. And while many Americans dutifully put items into their recycling bins, much of it does not actually end up being recycled. This post will explain why, and talk about potential solutions.

Plastic recycling presents the biggest challenge because the plastic is often contaminated by other materials and consumer goods companies are reluctant to buy recycled plastic unless it is as pure as virgin plastic.

The global market for high quality recycled materials is actually growing. Global demand for paper and cardboard is expected to grow by 1.2 percent a year, mainly due to the growth in e-commerce and the need for packaging; recycled paper will be essential to meeting this demand.

And the global plastic recycling market is projected to grow by $14.74 billion between now and 2024. As a result, companies are trying to enhance the quality of recycled plastic as well as incorporate it into the plastic products they produce. Plastic waste, especially PET and HDPE, is being recycled into packaging, building and constructions, electronics, automotive, furniture, textiles and more.

The key to fixing recycling in the U.S. is developing the domestic market. This means improving the technology for sorting and recovering materials, incorporating more recycled material into products, getting these products into the marketplace and creating demand for them.

If recycling processors have a market where they can sell their material, they will be motivated to invest in better equipment that can sort materials to minimize contamination, and it will make economic sense to expand recycling programs.

Germany recycles 56 percent of its trash by providing different colored bins for different colored glass and other items. The country uses the Green Dot recycling system: When a green dot is placed on packaging material, it indicates that the manufacturer contributes to the cost of collection and recycling. These manufacturers pay a license fee to a waste collection company that is calculated on weight in order to get their packaging picked up, sorted and recycled. 041b061a72

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