Recyclables prices soaring

After China’s National Sword policy banned the import of several recyclable materials, curbside residential recycling programs faced challenges in some communities. Since early 2020, there has been a strong recovery in commodity prices for discarded materials, which is having a positive impact on local recycling programs.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has published a report on how recycling markets have strongly recovered since National Sword.

SWANA reports the prices and demand for recyclables from municipal curbside recycling programs have rebounded and are close to record highs in the United States and Canada.

According to the report, the average, or “blended” value of a ton of recyclables recovered at MRFs in New England increased by 160 percent to US$134.26 over the past two years (April/June 2019–April/June 2021). The value increased during the summer of 2021 as commodity prices continued to rise.

Waste Management recently announced that the “single stream recycling blended rate” was more than $130 per ton as of September 2021. This
was an increase from $30 per ton in early 2020.

“One of the very few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the remarkable recovery of recycling prices,” said David Biderman, SWANA’s CEO and Executive Director.

“This is encouraging investments in new technologies at MRFs and new carts at municipalities,” he added.

The full report, Recycling Markets Have Strongly Recovered Since National Sword, is available for download here.