Jerry Powell, editor of Resource Recycling magazine told Popular Mechanic that recycled materials have dropped about two-thirds to three-quarters in value. The price of recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastics plummeted from $396 per ton in June to $176 per ton in December, according to the Maine Resource Recover Center.
When consumer purchases slowed down, manufacturers in China also needed less of America’s recyclables, especially paper for packaging goods. Last October, baled newspapers in Northern California were going for $140 to $150 a ton. By November, the market price had more than halved to $55 to $60 a ton.
However, savvy recyclers who understood that the good times would end and expected the fluctuations continue to move inventory.
Wes Muir, a Waste Management spokesman, told Popular Mechanic that price drops are nothing new and that even at lower prices recyclables remain valuable resources.
Mark Westlund, a spokesman for San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, says the department is still moving all of its recyclables. But Westlund says he can imagine companies without capacity to properly handle the waste stream may decrease the amount of recyclables it collects.
Although recycling waste is not profitable for Frederick County, it says it is still cheaper than treating is as regular waste.