The American recycling system is on the verge of breaking down, and it could mean higher costs for homeowners
Recycling is going to get a lot more expensive for homeowners.
Recycling companies used to make money shipping goods to China, but China has halted imports over contamination concerns.
Now municipalities are forced to charge homeowners way more to recycle goods — and in some cases, it all just ends up in landfill anyway.
You’re soon going to have to pay a lot more to recycle, and the reason is simple supply-and-demand economics, with a healthy dash of international trade policy. It’s also because you probably don’t recycle properly.
“Recycling as we know it isn’t working,” James Warner, chief executive of the Solid Waste Management Authority, told The Wall Street Journal. “There’s always been ups and downs in the market, but this is the biggest disruption that I can recall.”
It all has to do with China’s once insatiable appetite for our recycled goods. The US ships much of its recycled material — plastic bottles, scrap paper, and cardboard — to feed China’s industrial boom.
China, however, suspended imports earlier this month of recycled goods from the US until June 4, and now, the plants across the US that used to make a healthy profit shipping recycled goods are effectively cut out of the export market. While the suspension only lasts until next month, it’s a sign that China doesn’t want to buy recycled goods from the US anymore.