Spectrum Logo
A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Recycling Markets Report

By Larry Bechtel, recycling coordinator

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 17 - January 26, 1995

For the past three to four years, the news about recycling markets remained simple and ominous: "they're glutted."

The talk now, however, is not about glutted markets but markets searching for recyclables. Take plastics, for example. As reported in Waste Age's November 15 issue of Recycling Times, the American Plastics Council, Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers, and the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery recently issued a press release broadcasting the lack of PET and HDPE bottles.

The three trade groups are calling for more curbside collection of plastic bottles. "`We can use any city who wants to add plastics (collection), anywhere,'" said Ron Perkins, director of recycling operations at the American Plastics Council.

As reported in the November 1 issue of Recycling Times, the situation with paper is similar. According to Andy Waters, manager of Smurfit Waste Reduction Services, fiber supplies are falling behind demand. "`Smurfit determined that on several of the major grade groups--news, OCC (old corrugated containers), and office waste paper--there is not going to be enough fiber in the U.S. by the end of 1996 unless significant changes are made in collection. We have to get deeper into the waste stream to recover more.'"

These national trends in market expansion for recyclables are mirrored locally as well. "Markets are good," reports Tim Myers, Montgomery County recycling coordinator. "Plastics are strong. There's some softening (decline) in the paper markets--this is perhaps seasonal--but sorted white ledger is strong, news is high, mixed paper is reasonable. For years there's been talk of mixed-paper picking up in the future; the future may be now."

In an effort to link buyers and sellers of recyclables, the National Recycling Coalition and the Chicago Board of Trade has developed a demonstration trading system using the Board of Trade's electronic cash exchange. The project will initially list glass, PET, and HDPE, and may eventually include listings for paper. Funding for the project has been supplied by the EPA and the American Plastics Council.