With falling market prices, what is to become of the recycling market?
If it were not difficult enough to raise funds in the current economic conditions for sustainable development, market prices for aluminium, paper, plastic and steel have been falling through the [corrugated] roof, making recycling a far less attractive business. As reported by Gannett News Service, the prices took a turn for the worse once the Asian markets, specifically China, stopped buying at the end of the year. According to RecycleNet Corp., the national price of aluminium has dropped from $2,040 to $1,020 per ton since June. Steel has fallen from $210 to $77/ton. As a result of these lower commodity prices, recycling companies have had to cut back on services, including curbside pickups, and to lay off personnel. Aside from the financial difficulties for the recycling companies, a more harrowing risk would be that consumers get out of the habit of recycling. This will depend in part on how long this depression in prices lasts. More on the subject of falling market prices here from the Times Herald-Record (NY State). These price drops reinforce the notion that sustainable development may well take a back seat in the ongoing recession. Hopefully, the recycling companies will survive this downturn and, perhaps, find more efficient means to do the recycling in the process. That said, if the recession were to reduce considerably production and hyper-consumption, maybe that would be some kind of victory in the fight against global warming? Wherefore the quality of life after that shake-up, though?
I listened to an ABC report over the weekend which gave some more details in the collapsing prices of the recycling market:
The price of cardboard has fallen from $100/ton to $25 in the space of a few months. There has been a 70% drop in scrap steel in the past 6 weeks. Tin has fallen from $25/ton to $5/ton.
Recycled resin prices are now back to year-ago levels. See here: http://www.ptonline.com/pricing/recyc.html
And, poignantly, used plastic bags and tin cans are piling up in recycling warehouses… Among other problems, we now could end up with a warehousing problem of unrecycled materials. The recycling trade and its network is stalled…