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The Cost of Recycling: Who Should Pay, and How Can the Industry Evolve Most Effectively?

The recycling industry is an ever shifting, dynamic businesses with more facets than most customers realize. The ability of both the public and private sectors to run effective programs relies on myriad factors—from education and compliance at office and household levels, to hauler contracts and policies, to the impacts of commodity markets. And new issues present themselves each day, adding complexity to the process of transforming, for instance, an old plastic bottle into something new and useful.

Across cities, counties, and states, the U.S.’ recycling successes vary greatly. The same can be said for businesses from small to large. In order to best serve their constituencies and customers—organizations, governments, and corporations are trying new regulations, pricing models, participation tactics, and more; to see what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, haulers need to be compensated enough for performing their critical recycling services that they can make a profit. Questions persist as to who should bear the burden, and how recycling fees should be calculated.

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