Costs are up. Curbside recycling service costs have significantly increased in recent years. Some communities have stopped recycling or reduced the types of recyclables allowed in the bin.
WHY HAVE COSTS INCREASED? For many years recyclable materials have been exported to China to be processed and made into new goods. However, the quality of exported recyclables was poor because of the large amount of non-recyclable items contained in the shipments. These non-recyclable items are considered contamination and excessively high levels of contamination over many years caused China to impose strict quality standards and reject contaminated shipments. These actions have had a major impact as global supplies and demand adjust.
THE DEMAND FOR CLEANER PRODUCT DRIVES MATERIAL PROCESSING COSTS HIGHER. HERE'S WHY. To meet the requirements for cleaner shipments of recyclables, the material sorting facilities must become more attentive and accurate in the removal of contaminants. Since material sorting occurs both by human hands and machines, sorting facilities have added more sorting staff, slowed the sorting lines, and invested in equipment upgrades and new sorting technology.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED People are enthusiastic about recycling, but this enthusiasm causes problems since not all products are recyclable. Recycling programs have very specific items that are accepted and not all recycling programs accept the same items.
Contamination happens when well-intentioned recyclers put unacceptable items in their bins hoping they will somehow be recycled. These "wishcyclers" put items such as plastic bags, foam, cookware, straws, greasy pizza boxes, and bagged materials in the bin when they should be placed in the trash can. With the cost of processing recyclables increasing everyone ends up paying a higher fee for material that belongs in the trash.
While we don't know for how long or how much, it is clear that recyclables processing costs will continue to increase. One way to help decrease costs is to reduce the contamination level in your curbside recycling bin. It is important to understand that the water bottle or cardboard box you recycle today, will become the raw materials that are sold and used to manufacture new products, if they are clean and uncontaminated.