The latest look at the economic challenges facing the recycling industry comes from the Financial Times. The paper explores how the recycling industry in Britain is faring. It is facing the same kinds of struggles that the U.S. recycling industry is facing. Commodities prices are low. Export markets have shrunk. The result is that it’s difficult to make recycling work.
Here’s an excerpt:
The fall in prices for recycled goods has put pressure on every part of the waste management industry. “Recycling is a commodities business,” says Ian Wakelin, chief executive of Biffa, which collects waste from more than 2.4m households for 36 local authorities in the UK.
“Everything we do competes with virgin material prices. The industry used to be happy to take the risk of commodity price volatility. But when it became clear that this was a prolonged slump, that became difficult.”
Plastic has suffered most. With new plastics made from the byproducts of oil and gas production, it has become cheaper for the manufacturers of water bottles, ice cream containers and yoghurt pots to buy their raw materials new, rather than recycled.