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 user 2008-12-10 at 1:01:44 pm Views: 87
  • #20394
    As prices tumble, recycling stumbles
    Rumpke Inc. paid the Columbus suburb more than $200,000 a year for newspapers that residents put in their curbside recycling bins.That was before the global economic downturn torpedoed prices for recyclables. Glass bottles, metal cans, cardboard, office paper and plastics are worth a fraction of what recyclers were paid just weeks ago.The value of newspaper was hit particularly hard, dropping from $95 a ton in September to $5 a ton last week. A ton of cardboard, which used to fetch $105, now is worth $22.50.”This is the steepest one-month drop in prices we’ve seen,” said David Schwendeman, Rumpke’s recycling marketing manager.

    As recyclers cut staff members and search for new buyers, officials worry that more recyclable materials might end up in landfills. Catherine Armstrong, Upper Arlington’s finance director, said the city might have to renegotiate its garbage contract if prices don’t rebound.”The recycling revenue helps offset the (contract’s) cost,” Armstrong said.The city’s garbage hauler, Inland Service Corp., will be paid $2 million next year to collect trash and recyclables.Americans recycled a record 33.4 percent of their garbage in 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. In 1965, people recycled 6.2 percent of their trash.

    Through October, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio collected 10,502 tons of recyclable materials at 200 Franklin County drop-off centers. That puts SWACO on pace to surpass the 10,755 tons collected in 2007.Prices plummeted after the global recession sank orders for recycled goods, particularly from Chinese factories. China was a major buyer, said Ed Skernolis, acting director of the National Recycling Coalition.”When people stop buying things, like televisions, you don’t need as many boxes to put them in, and you don’t have to recycle paper to make those boxes,” Skernolis said. “It’s that simple.”

    That has recyclers struggling to make ends meet.
    A paper (recycler) needs about $60 to $70 a ton just to handle it,” said Robert Boulanger, publisher of, which tracks demand for recycled commodities.Schwendeman said Rumpke customers won’t see any changes because the company has several long-term contracts with buyers.Waste Alternatives, a Mount Vernon plastics recycler, stopped using temporary workers, cutting 29 positions from its 50-person work force.”It’s not a jolly business to be in right now,” said Steve Shew, a Waste Alternatives co-owner.

    John Remy, a SWACO spokesman, said businesses that once sold waste paper and other materials to recyclers might begin dumping them in the Franklin County landfill.”I would hope that people would continue to recycle because it’s the right thing to do,” Remy said.Skernolis said recyclers have to hold on until the recession ends.”It’s important to sustain what we have,” he said. “This market is going to recover, and we need to be able to satisfy the demand.