Recycling Market Bottoms out
Quote:As World Demand Falls, Prices for Recyclables Go in Dumper
A sudden collapse in worldwide demand for re-cyclables, particularly from China, has scrap dealers from Sacramento to San Diego stockpiling curbside collections as never before and charging walk-in customers for their throwaways.
Stacks of baled paper, plastic and metal are mounting at the Sacramento Recycling & Transfer Station plant on Fruitridge Road because market prices are too low to turn a profit or, worse, no buyers can be found, its operators said.
Five miles to the west, Mings Recycling Corp. recently posted a sign at its entrance on 47th Avenue: Ask for prices before you unload.
We got fed up reloading everybodys pickup, said Kevin Luong, the companys marketing director, now in his seventh consecutive week of meager sales. People are so shocked by the low prices. They think they are being ripped off here, but thats not the case. Its not us. Its the market.
If the scrap market doesnt recover anytime soon, homeowners could see their garbage rates rise. Most recyclers pay for the materials cities and counties collect from residents blue curbside bins and then sell it for a profit. The proceeds help offset the governments costs of collection.
It helps keep our recycling rates low, said Jessica Hess, a Sacramento city spokeswoman.
Local officials also see the buildup of unsold rubbish as a potential public health hazard. State waste regulators anticipate that dealers will ask that limits on the volume of stockpiled bales be relaxed.
Were wondering what can we do to provide some relief, said Jon Meyers, spokesman for the state Integrated Waste Management Board.
Devalued recyclables easily could end up in the dump, making it harder for municipalities to comply with a state mandate to divert at least half of their waste from landfills, Meyers said.
As far as Sacramento County officials know, recyclers are not landfilling it as yet, said Paul Philleo, county director of waste management and recycling.
The scrap market took a nosedive in late September. At first, industry analysts thought they were seeing a short-term Olympics effect from the shutdown of Chinese paper mills and other big polluters during the Summer Games in Beijing. But as the weeks of rock-bottom prices wore on, the cause became clear.
China, a voracious consumer of West Coast scrap, has all but stopped buying used paper and plastic because international demand for Chinese products made from these recyclables has diminished. Much of the material goes to making cardboard and plastics for packaging everything from iPods to eyewear, computers and cars.
A lot of the material was going to China to make boxes for all the things they were shipping back to the United States, said Bruce Savage, spokesman for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Washington, D.C. When they arent producing products, they dont need the packaging materials.
When the cavalcade of collapses in housing, credit, stocks and commodities hit the recycling industry, it plummeted.
On Oct. 1, for example, baled newspapers in Northern California were going for $140 to $150 a ton. By Nov. 1, the market price had dropped more than 60 percent to $55 to $60 a ton.
The Death of the American Consumer has a multitude of implications. I suppose it's a little bittersweet. After all it's because we've stopped using so much that the demand for recyclables has fallen on it's face.
The belief in 'coincidence' is the prevalent superstition of the Age of Science.
&I don't understand why you're taking such a belligerant tone when you're obviously the ignorant one here. &