Wednesday , April 1 2020
Home / Cyril Morong: Dangerous Economist / Awash in dirty plastic: We’ve got a big problem in our recycling market

Awash in dirty plastic: We’ve got a big problem in our recycling market

Summary:
By Michael Taylor of The San Antonio Express-News. Excerpts: "plastic straws represent just 0.03 percent of American plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, according to Rachel Meidl of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy""the global market for recyclable commodities got a massive shock at the end of 2017, with the situation still evolving.China announced a new program called “National Sword” in 2017 in which it would not import 24 types of waste, including many mixed paper and plastic products, starting in March 2018. A further list of 16 more items, including many metals, will be banned from import by the end of 2019." "The China bans allow for the importation of “clean” plastics and metals, but it ceased the importation of what people in the industry call

Topics:
[email protected] (Cyril Morong) considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

rvohra writes Econometrica Submission Fees

John H. Cochrane writes Links

Sławomir Sierakowski writes Populists Love the Pandemic

Arindrajit Dube writes The importance of an expanded U.S. Unemployment Insurance system during the coronavirus recession

By Michael Taylor of The San Antonio Express-News. Excerpts:
"plastic straws represent just 0.03 percent of American plastic waste that ends up in the ocean, according to Rachel Meidl of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy"

"the global market for recyclable commodities got a massive shock at the end of 2017, with the situation still evolving.

China announced a new program called “National Sword” in 2017 in which it would not import 24 types of waste, including many mixed paper and plastic products, starting in March 2018. A further list of 16 more items, including many metals, will be banned from import by the end of 2019."

"The China bans allow for the importation of “clean” plastics and metals, but it ceased the importation of what people in the industry call contaminated commodities, or mixed materials.
Even after the 2017 policy change, China remained open to highly pure or homogeneous paper, plastics and metals, but not the mixed, dirty and hard-to-handle stuff it had previously bought from the United States and Europe.
Underlying this China ban is the first key lesson of the economics of the recycling industry: Demand and prices are highly driven by the purity of the commodity.
Purity in this market means the homogeneous consistency of one type of resource. If a recycler can cleanly separate any secondhand material — whether it’s plastic, metal, paper or even glass — industrial buyers will pay a premium.
Mixed materials, by contrast, whether blended with other materials or contaminated by nonrecyclables or worse, go for the lowest prices, if they’re purchased at all.
By 2019, the tons of scrap plastic imported to China fell to less than 1 percent of 2017 levels.
Imports of plastic waste from the U.S. and Europe to Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam briefly quadrupled in 2018 as plastic exporters scrambled to find alternatives to the China market. But those Southeast Asian markets have proven unable to handle the volumes coming from the U.S. and Europe. Recyclers in the U.S. are now awash in dirty plastic, with no outlet for their commodity. Much of that is headed for landfills.
The price of products such as cardboard and what the industry calls “mixed paper” has also plummeted."
"U.S. cities that used to earn a profit on their recycling programs now lose money every month. Some cities have either cut back part of their programs or are considering doing so."
Related posts:

Has An Increase In Supply Reduced The Economic Value Of Recycling? (May 17, 2018)

As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling (April 04, 2019)

What about all this plastic pollution? (June 17, 2019)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *