eco ramblings

a dialogue with an Eco Patriot

Recycling and the Economy

Posted by Luke on February 5, 2010

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers held a webinar yesterday titled “Understanding the recycling industry’s current and potential role in supporting manufacturing.” 

Although waste diversion will continue to be important, the management and reproduction of diverted materials is becoming a bigger and bigger issue.  Between the 1980’s and 1990s, the number of curbside recycling programs grew from 500 to over 9000.  At the time, the U.S. manufacturing base was not setup to process all of the recycled materials and turn them into usable products.  As a result, China ended up saving our recycling programs because they bought a majority of the recycled materials.  Without China, it’s possible that our country’s recycling programs would not be where they are today. 

China is still a big purchaser of recycled materials – over 50% of all recycled PET bottles are shipped across the Pacific.  If we want to truly have a viable recycling economy, we need to drive U.S. manufacturers and legislators to focus on producing finished goods using post-consumer recycled materials. 

You can download the full webinar presentation slides here.

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