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The Green Life: Dramatic Drop in Recycling Prices Causes Pileup

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December 09, 2008

Dramatic Drop in Recycling Prices Causes Pileup

Recycle It's not just the Dow that's falling. The drop in the price of recyclables makes the stock market's steep decline look tame. That means there's the threat of a mountain of materials heading to landfills instead of being recycled.

Paper has fallen from $105 per ton in October to as low as $20 per  ton; tin has tumbled from $327 to $5 per ton. China and India have stopped buying recycled materials while domestic disposal fees for recycling are increasing, making it less cost-effective to recycle than to landfill. 

While recycling is environmentally friendly, it is closely knit to the economy and driven by the same market fluctuations. Some processors and brokers are warehousing their products, while others are charging inflated prices. Now, instead of getting paid for recycled materials, haulers are having to pay to get rid of them. And the fact is, the recycling market probably won't bounce back until the economy improves. Can it re-cycle into the profitable industry it once was? Or will those cans and newspapers be tossed out with the rest of the trash?

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