The global economic downshift could potentially be hitting home in an unexpected place: your blue box.
“Recycling companies are saying we can’t take metal or plastics anymore,” says Mairi Welman, Director of Communications for the Recycling Council of British Columbia. “They don’t have any space to put it, and they can’t sell it.”
The problem originates with the hundreds of mills in India and China that normally accept corrugated cardboard, glass, mixed papers and plastic, but that have closed their doors to new materials, Welman explains. She also has heard that there are issues among the container shipping industry with letters of credit.
“The whole market has crashed on everything across the board,” confirms Mike Sullivan, general manager of Metro Waste Paper Recovery, one of several materials-processing firms in the British Columbia. “We are still taking mixed paper, but nobody can move glass. For mixed plastic, everyone that has it is just stockpiling the stuff.”
“In China they are not producing finished goods, so they are not buying the corrugated boxes to pack them in, and then the box mills are not in turn buying the waste corrugated material from Britain or North America.”
“I don’t think we are going to see any improvement in the next month; I haven’t seen anything like it in 25 years. It is not just a few mills closing down in the Northwest. It is not just a few on the east coast shutting down for a few weeks. We are talking about every mill.”
Read the rest of my story over at The Hook. It’s ironic, really. In reducing our consumer appetites for packaged goods manufactured in Asia, we are — in a round-about way — starting to crunch our recycling programs. Perhaps we could start stacking our tin cans and plastic tubs in the stadiums. Is Wall-E available?