Household recyclables aren’t nearly as profitable as they used to be.
The value of household recyclables has declined sharply in the past year after China, once the biggest consumer of recycled materials, has all but stopped accepting them. The Chinese government decided earlier this year to stop taking any recycled material from the U.S., and the cost is being passed on.
“There is still a cost to drive by the house to pick it up, there’s still a cost to take it to a sorting facility and process it and then there’s still a cost to marketing and selling the material and all of that now has to be covered some way because the value of the commodity on the back end is no longer enough to cover those costs,” said Frank Chimera of Republic Services, a recycling company.
Chimera says he doesn’t expect the recycling market to change anytime soon and says this appears to be the business model moving forward.
Phillipsburg Mayor Steve Ellis says the town’s recycling bill has climbed steeply quickly.
“It [recycling] was paying for itself. We would drop it off. There would be no fee. And then all of a sudden our office at DPW started getting bills, $2,000, $3,000, now $5,000,” Ellis said.
He said he was shocked to see the cost of recycling go from $0 to over $5,000 per month in just three months.
“If it continues to rise like it has in the last three months, who knows where it is going to stop,” Ellis said.