The Heartbeat of Recycling

January 18, 2023

Member Services Manager, Brian Patnoe, recently shared his thoughts on the current recycling markets:

How things change. Just a few months ago recycling was as strong as ever.  Cardboard and paper were up, plastic was holding its own, and metals were good. But before you knew it, there was a drop. Interest rates increased, the housing market slowed, and people started to buy less.

The graph below represents our industry, and for many of us, our passion. It is the lifeline, the heartbeat. 

At the peaks, our lives seem easier. The economy usually is strong and we can brag about how much money we have made and/or saved the town. It also seems to be easier to upgrade equipment when towns see the revenue that is passing through. But when prices - and revenues - are down, it usually means people don’t have extra money and town budgets are tight. We ride it out as best as we can and hope to see the beginning of the next beat. 

Figure 1: 20-year cardboard pricing

But what causes a new beat? Of course, there are all the state and federal government issues and fixes, but I firmly believe it starts with us. Through advocating and education we show our residents and towns how it is still better to recycle, waste less, and conserve.

Anything, and everything helps.

Push to purchase items made from recycled product, purchase materials that have less waste, purchase in bulk, and rethink how you handle your material. Getting your town administrators involved is the biggest change I can suggest. Talk and explain issues to them, go to select board meetings to talk and answer questions.  Knowledge is key.

As for NRRA’s part, we are constantly advocating for you.  We work on getting the best price we can get for your material, and in some instances, fight for you if there is an issue with your load.  We are in contact with vendors, state officials, and leading experts so we can work on getting the next beat going.

In the meantime, as we wait, I want to say thank you to all our members, vendors, and the residents that help keep our heartbeat strong.