Weak demand and low prices are continuing to challenge the recycling businesses across the country, especially as Americans are recycling more than ever.
Much of the plummets in prices of recyclable materials is due to China’s import ban on certain materials and stringent contamination standards for others. According to an El Paso Times report, Houston-based collection company Waste Management is expecting its earnings from recycling to shrink by about $100 million compared to last year.
Recyclable products that China has not banned have stricter rules regarding contamination, which becomes problematic for recyclers. For instance, according to the El Paso Times, trash makes up 25 percent of what arrives at Waste Management's facilities that sort and bale recyclables. That's 500 pounds of contaminants for every ton of recyclables, noted the report.
El Paso Times has more details:
Oceans choked with discarded plastics. Beached whales found with hundreds of pieces of plastics in their stomachs. Soil contaminated by tiny fragments of plastics.
The Houston Chronicle reports as environmentalists, corporations and the public increasingly focus on the mass of plastics discarded every day, they are running into a stubborn problem that has yet to be solved. The recycling market continues to sputter, most recently from weak demand and low prices. Waste Management, the Houston trash collection and disposal company, expects its earnings from recycling to shrink by about $100 million last year compared to 2017.
A robust recycling market is critical not only to reducing plastics in the environment — a key focus now as coffee shops ban plastic straws and consumers bring reusable bags to supermarkets — but also to the Gulf Coast's booming petrochemical industry, to which growing concerns about plastic waste pose a threat to its business.