Prices for recycled commodities like plastic and mixed paper have fallen so sharply that some recyclers can’t cover basic costs. In some cases, they’re finding it cheaper to send some of those materials to the landfill. Louisville metro’s recycling program is like many municipalities facing falling prices and higher costs for its program. Program head Keith Hackett says he’s contacting the companies that process recycled materials to find out how they’re coping—and to make sure materials are actually being recycled.
“Because that’s my question. We want to make sure this is not going to the landfill because we want to continue to encourage people to recycle because when the market does change we’ll all be better for it,” Hackett says.
Some reports show that paper mills were paying more than $100 dollars a ton for mixed paper earlier this year but that price fell to around $5 dollars. One driver behind the lower prices is the fact that foreign nations are taking less recycled material from the United States.