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Post China and the Current Status of Recycling

Episode 18: A discussion from WasteExpo 2019 on “Post China & The Current Status of Recycling.”

Even though it has been two years since National Sword, the industry is still dealing with the new realities of recycling. In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we bring you a dynamic session from WasteExpo 2019 on “Post China & The Current Status of Recycling.”

The discussion features Katie Sandoe, chief commercial officer for the Lancaster County, Pa., Solid Waste Management Authority; Byron Luo, CEO of WinFibre U.S.; and Cheryl Coleman, division director of Resource Conservation and Sustainability at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Katie Sandoe: If I can give you some key takeaways—in whatever space you represent—I think these are applicable across areas:

  1. Changing behavior takes time. People are creatures of habit.
  2. Simplicity and consistency are crucial when talking about behavior change.
  3. It is so critical that the public and private sectors work together.
  4. Don’t shy away from media and PR [public relations]. It can be a very valuable opportunity.
  5. Keeping top-of-mind awareness is key.

Byron Luo: To echo Katie’s point of view of hope, capacity is growing. Globally, recycled paper remains a key source of fiber. Though China’s production and consumption is down, over a longer period of time, I think we are looking at a growing market. Don’t give up.

Cheryl Coleman: Recycling is not dead. Recycling can make you money. But we have to work together. The data shows we made 757,000 jobs in this country around recycling; $6.5 billion annually in tax revenues. And yet we threw away $9 billion worth of materials. Think of the money you could have made. If recycling isn’t done right, materials are going in the trash; we have to start with the consumers and stop blaming each other. Also, measurement matters.

Listen to the full episode here.

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