Paper Piling Up In Warehouses as Market Collapses

paper for recycling photo

Photo: AFP from Guardian

John recently noted that the recycling business is in the toilet in the US; Jaymi wrote that the same thing is happening in Britain; now they are drowning in paper that used to be shipped to China but that nobody wants now. The Confederation of Paper industries says in the Guardian:

"With no obvious signs of Far East buyers returning to the market soon there is a serious possibility that storage of recyclables may end up being a high-risk strategy with huge costs to those requiring storage, including the taxpayers through local authorities. The worst-case scenario is that some material collected for recycling could go to incineration or landfill."


Phone Dials, Edward Burtynsky

According to Western Morning News,

At a time when levels of recyclable waste are increasing, councils are struggling to sell on the waste owing to a dramatic drop in prices of steel, aluminium, cardboard and plastics.

Mike Trim, head of cleansing services at Exeter City Council, said they had had to start stockpiling steel, since its value dropped "almost overnight" three weeks ago from £150 per tonne to zero.

Councils may have to start giving recyclables away free if the market does not improve, relying only on the £45 recycling credit per tonne contributed by the Government.

"We are still encouraging people to recycle. But the problem is that it is a world market – even China is closing its doors. Sadly, it is totally out of our hands," Mr Trim said.

He said cardboard has dropped from £60 per tonne to zero, aluminium has dropped from £900 to £400 and HDPE plastic (used to make milk containers) is down from £350 to £150.

Only high-quality paper and glass are holding their value.


Aluminum, Edward Burtynsky

So not only is recycling bullshit, it doesn't even work anymore as it piles up all over the world. Soon the Linens 'n Things and Circuit City big boxes will be filled to the rafters with the stuff.

All the more reason why we have to immediately encourage reuseable containers and discourage disposables, and stop pretending that recycling solves the problem.

More in TreeHugger on zero waste vs recycling
World Economic Downturn "Decycles" Reclaimed Materials
Recycling is Bullshit; Make Nov. 15 Zero Waste Day, not America Recycles Day
It's Time for Deposits. On Everything.

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