The state could be headed for a big-time slump in recycling due to falling commodity prices.
Prices for paper, metals, and plastic goods have fallen sharply thanks to the worldwide economic slump. Prices paid to recyclers have fallen 50 percent in a month, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Now the board is concerned those items will end up in the landfill.
“We’re aware of the potential dilemma facing our state’s recycling infrastructure,” Board Chair Margo Reid Brown said in a statement. “We cannot undo the incredible progress our local cities and counties have done to reduce our waste in landfills.”
Elsewhere, recycling centers have responded by warehousing newspapers and cardboard in hopes prices will rise again many “are scrambling to find additional storage space,” to keep the goods, a board news release said.
Locally, SLO County folks shouldn’t see much change, at least in the short term, said Bill Worrell of the County’s Integrated Waste Management Board.
“For a lot of commodities they’ve gone from record highs to normal to below normal prices. But it’s cyclical. They go up and they go down.”
No matter the prices, he said, “Certainly things won’t be ending up in the landfill.” That practice is barred under contract.
And people shouldn’t face higher prices because bills aren’t based on the prices of commodities.
State leaders say keeping paper and cardboard out of landfills is one of the keys to combating global warming. Paper and other organic material generate methane gas when they decompose methane is considered 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a cause of global warming.
The falling prices don’t affect the 5-cents-each rate paid for individual bottles and cans.