The sudden new strength of recycling.IT STARTED OUT AS A "DO-GOOD" ACTIVITY, THEN EVOLVED INTO A NECESSARY BURDEN FOR MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENTS. NOW, QUITE SUDDENLY, IT HAS BECOME A REAL REVENUE-PRODUCER.
Recycling recycling, the process of recovering and reusing waste products—from household use, manufacturing, agriculture, and business—and thereby reducing their burden on the environment. , one of the key strategies for alleviating the pressures of the human presence on natural systems, has finally - and dramatically - arrived as a mainstream industrial activity in North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. .
It's ironic that the breakthrough took so long. North America - or at least the U.S. and Canadian part of it - is where materials consumption is most profligate prof·li·gate
1. Given over to dissipation; dissolute.
2. Recklessly wasteful; wildly extravagant.
A profligate person; a wastrel. , and where the impacts of that consumption (in pollution from landfills and incinerators, energy production for manufacturing, and the spreading damage left by extractive extractive /ex·trac·tive/ (-tiv) any substance present in an organized tissue, or in a mixture in a small quantity, and requiring extraction by a special method.
1. industries) are therefore most troublesome. Yet, for a quarter-century after the first Earth Day, recycling advocates were forced to spend much of their energy trying to make their case to skeptical decisionmakers.
In the 1980s, recycling was still seen largely as a "do-good" activity. It was of little interest to fast-track business investors, who in those days were too busy pursuing "high-tech" ventures. The idea of founding a profitable business on old newspapers and empty bottles did not fit well with the ascendant lifestyles of the era. Local governments, many of which had to cope with rising landfill costs, were a bit more responsive, but still tended to regard their new recycling programs as burdens.
But now, suddenly, what was seen as a burden has become a major asset, and those communities that had the foresight (graphics, tool) Foresight - A software product from Nu Thena providing graphical modelling tools for high level system design and simulation. to set up solid recycling programs a few years ago are beginning to reap real rewards. Since early 1994, prices for nearly all commonly collected recyclables have skyrocketed. In San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , for example, recycling director Sharon Maves reports that the used paper, plastic, and metals the city picks up from curbs is bringing in "unprecedented revenue" - allowing the city to actually reduce household assessments for waste collection and recycling.
The story is the same across the continent. New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , which two years ago was paying $6 million per year to get rid of its newsprint newsprint
low grade paper used for newspapers. Old newspapers are fed to cattle as an alternative roughage and may occasionally be ingested by dogs. Significant amounts of lead are accumulated in tissues; no cases of poisoning have been recorded in cattle, though it has been , now expects to earn $20-25 million from selling the same material over the next year, says recycling chief Bob Lange. Early in 1994, Madison, Wisconsin Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
The 2006 population estimate of Madison was 223,389, making it the second largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and was paying $13 per ton to the processors who took its recyclables; by the end of the year it was receiving nearly $23 per ton. Madison recycling coordinator George Dreckman calls his city's program a "cash cow Cash Cow
1. One of the four categories (quadrants) in the BCG growth-share matrix that represents the division within a company that has a large market share within a mature industry.
2. " that yielded the city $240,000 in net revenue (after processing costs, but not including collection costs) in the first four months of 1994.
Such numbers are making recycling increasingly attractive to many city waste administrators. While every city's economics are different - and some still have cheap municipal landfills with years of remaining capacity - many well-run programs are collecting and marketing materials at costs well below those of landfilling or burning waste. Madison now saves $40 for every ton of material it keeps out of its landfill by recycling. In Seattle, the city's total cost of collecting and processing recyclables fell from an average of $89 per ton in 1993 to $28 per ton by April 1995 - about $77 per ton less than what the city pays for disposal of what it can't recycle re·cy·cle
tr.v. re·cy·cled, re·cy·cling, re·cy·cles
1. To put or pass through a cycle again, as for further treatment.
2. To start a different cycle in.
a. . In Canada, a number of communities in the province of Ontario are now earning profits of Cdn $50 per ton or more on recycling, including collection, processing, and capital costs, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Atul Nanda, a senior official in Metro Toronto's recycling program.
Where recycling is not succeeding, a close look often reveals poor management. In Washington, D.C., for example, where city officials moved in late April to halt residential collection of recyclables, municipal administrators did not take into account the costs of landfilling and incineration incineration
the act of burning to ashes. that the city avoided by recycling. They tied funding for the recycling program to revenue from dumping by commercial waste haulers at the city landfill, which meant that the more trash was recycled, the less funding it received. And finally, they failed to renegotiate re·ne·go·ti·ate
tr.v. re·ne·go·ti·at·ed, re·ne·go·ti·at·ing, re·ne·go·ti·ates
1. To negotiate anew.
2. To revise the terms of (a contract) so as to limit or regain excess profits gained by the contractor. materials marketing contracts to take advantage of rising prices.
Even some communities with a history of successful recycling, such as Metro Toronto, have not been in a position to benefit from improved markets, because they locked themselves into long-term, fixed-rate contracts before materials prices soared. William Ferretti, director of the New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of state Office of Recycling Market Development, says municipal officials and waste haulers alike need to "stop acting like garbagemen" and realize that they are now in the business of selling commodities.
As recently as 1993, North American North American
named after North America.
North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.
North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus. markets for many recovered materials were unreliable, prices were low, and many communities were unsure about their long-term ability to sell the materials they collected. Now some cities are moving to expand their collection programs to take advantage of high prices for recyclables. San Francisco, for instance, is doing extensive public outreach in an attempt to recover more recyclables, and is expanding its program to cover previously uncollected materials. The high demand for recycled materials is allowing the city to market even lower-grade materials that in previous years might have been hard to sell.
THE BIG TURNAROUND
The most dramatic growth has occurred in prices for used paper products. Between January 1994 and March 1995, the average U.S. price of old newsprint - which had hovered near or below zero since mid-1991 - rose 22-fold, according to Recycling Times. The price of old corrugated cardboard Noun 1. corrugated cardboard - cardboard with corrugations (can be glued to flat cardboard on one or both sides)
cardboard, composition board - a stiff moderately thick paper
corrugated cardboard n - used cardboard boxes cardboard box n → caja de cartón
cardboard box n → (boîte f en) carton m
cardboard box card n → - jumped five-fold. In early May 1995, a ton of baled corrugated cardboard that sold for $45 to $50 in 1991 or 1992 was commanding $230 to $250. Other grades of paper saw smaller, but still substantial, price increases. (See graphs for overall averages.)
Over the same period, used aluminum beverage can A beverage can is most often an aluminium can manufactured to hold a single serving of a beverage. Overview
The early metal beverage can was made out of steel (similar to a tin can) and had no pull-tab. prices doubled, and recycled glass prices rose 80 percent. Prices of HDPE HDPE
high-density polyethylene and PET - the two plastics most commonly collected for recycling - went up by 260 percent and 160 percent, respectively.
What happened to cause these jumps? To some degree, they are a result of international economic developments. Simultaneous economic upturns in Japan, North America, and Western Europe Western Europe
The countries of western Europe, especially those that are allied with the United States and Canada in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (established 1949 and usually known as NATO). have driven up demand and prices for many commodities, both primary and recycled. Increased aluminum prices, for example, are largely the result of a January 1994 international agreement between the major aluminum-producing nations to reduce their production. Prices for both primary and recycled aluminum had been depressed since 1991, when Russian smelters - which formerly sold nearly all of their output within the Soviet bloc - began selling large amounts of the metal on already-slack Western markets. Higher prices for some plastics are related to poor crops of cotton in several major growing regions A growing region is an area suited by climate and soil conditions to the cultivation of a certain type of crop. Most crops are cultivated not in one place only, but in several distinct regions in diverse parts of the world. , which have driven prices for the natural fiber to all-time highs and sent clothing manufacturers hunting for substitutes. China has been importing used plastic soft-drink bottles and turning the polymer they contain into new synthetic fibers Noun 1. synthetic fiber - fiber created from natural materials or by chemical processes
fiber, fibre - a slender and greatly elongated substance capable of being spun into yarn
acrylic, acrylic fiber - polymerized from acrylonitrile for jackets and other garments.
But other factors are more basic and likely to last. Demand for products with recycled content has increased substantially with the rise of government and private procurement The fancy word for "purchasing." The procurement department within an organization manages all the major purchases. programs that give them preference, and experience with recycled-content products has removed much consumer apprehension about their suitability for a variety of uses. Most important, large capital investments have resulted in a dramatic expansion of industrial capacity for recycling. North American industry is "buying in Buying in has several meanings. In the securities market it refers to a process by which the buyer of securities, whose seller fails to deliver the securities contracted for, can 'buy in' the securities from a third party with the defaulting seller to make good. " to recycling.
The paper industry is at the leading edge of this change. Paper accounts for a larger share (38 percent) of U.S. municipal solid waste “Municipal waste” redirects here. For other uses, see Municipal waste (disambiguation).
Municipal solid waste (MSW) is a waste type that includes predominantly household waste (domestic waste) with sometimes the addition of commercial wastes collected by a than any other material, and has received more market-development attention from governments than other materials. Such efforts are now bearing fruit. The Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and estimates that the amount of paper recovered from U.S. municipal waste grew from 13 million tons in 1985 to 26 million tons in 1993. During much of this period, wastepaper waste·pa·per
Discarded paper. prices lagged, as the amount collected grew faster than the overall capacity of paper recycling Paper recycling is the process of recovering waste paper and remaking it into new paper products. There are three categories of paper that can be used as feedstocks for making recycled paper: mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste. plants. In 1994, however, the tables turned Tables Turned is a music licensing and broadcasting company launched at the College Music Journal's 2005 Music Marathon conference.
It exists to help independent artists find new forms of revenue from their music in addition to record sales. dramatically. Recovered paper consumption is growing more than twice as fast as total fiber consumption, and mills are scrambling for used paper supplies.
Behind this situation, say many in the paper industry, is a major change in the industry's structure. Heavy investment by papermakers in building new recycled-paper mills and retooling old plants to take in recycled fiber has created a much more mature, stable market for used paper. While prices will eventually decline again - as is to be expected to some degree with any commodity in response to normal business fluctuations - observers believe that the tremendous paper price crashes seen in previous years are unlikely to recur. Dan Cotter cot·ter
1. A bolt, wedge, key, or pin inserted through a slot in order to hold parts together.
2. A cotter pin.
[Origin unknown. , of Pacific Forest, a major broker of both used paper and new paper products, argues that recycled fiber has become a "primary" input for many paper manufacturers, rather than a last-resort substitute for virgin pulp. As a result, recycled fiber should experience future price swings no worse than those experienced in virgin pulp markets, whereas until recently, recycled-paper markets were far more volatile.
Recycling is revolutionizing the paper industry. The industry is actively moving to site its plants in areas with untapped reserves of wastepaper, and new paper mills are now being built in and near cities, rather than in more remote areas near large forests. Weyerhaeuser, for example, is a major partner in a large mill in Iowa - a state better-known for corn than for forests - to take advantage of the substantial amounts of wastepaper available from midwestern cities. The industry is also moving to recycle not just relatively low grades of paper - such as newsprint and old corrugated cardboard - but also office and coated papers Coated paper is paper which has been coated by an inorganic compound to impart certain qualities to the paper, including weight and surface gloss, smoothness or ink absorbency. Kaolinite is the compound most often used for coating papers used in commercial printing. , and is also making higher-grade products from recycled fiber.
The North American paper industry is pouring money into a resource it once resisted stubbornly stub·born
adj. stub·born·er, stub·born·est
a. Unreasonably, often perversely unyielding; bullheaded.
b. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute. See Synonyms at obstinate.
2. . The American Forest & Paper Association (AFPA AFPA Association Nationale pour la Formation Professionnelle des Adultes (the French State Vocational Training Service for Adults)
AFPA American Forest and Paper Association
AFPA Alberta Forest Products Association ), its main trade group, estimates that its members will invest a total of $10 billion in recycling by the end of the 1990s. They have set a goal of recycling or reusing half of all U.S. paper production by the year 2000. AFPA estimates that the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. recycled 40.5 percent of the paper it used in 1994. More than 80 percent of this was paper recovered from the post-consumer waste Post-consumer waste is a waste type produced by the end consumer of a material stream; that is, where the waste-producing use did not involve the production of another product. stream, while the remainder was scrap from paper mills and printing plants.
So much new paper recycling capacity has come on-line that existing collection programs are barely providing enough fiber to meet the demand. And more is on the way: new plants with several million tons of paper-recycling capacity. are scheduled to open in 1995. As a result, recycled-paper makers are becoming vocal supporters of paper collection programs. One paper broker describes the industry as "panicked" about future supplies of recycled fiber for the mills they have spent billions to build. Weyerhaeuser - a Fortune 500 company best-known for its timber production - has invested so much in recycling capacity that it is now offering cities 20-year, guaranteed market-rate contracts to purchase all the wastepaper they can collect. The company took in 2 million tons of wastepaper in 1994, and expects to consume 3 million tons in 1995.
The paper-recycling situation has completely reversed in just a few years. Before, paper companies were reluctant to invest in recycling, because they saw limited markets for recycled paper, and because they feared that large-scale municipal paper collection programs would not survive. Now, some industry officials are voicing caution about further investment in recycling capacity for the opposite reason - because markets have grown so fast that they are worried about obtaining adequate supplies of secondary fiber. Ironically, governments now need to reassure the companies not about the survival of the collection programs, but about their commitment to expand those programs over the long term.
THE GLUT THAT WAS
The reason that many governments embarked on market-development programs for recycled materials is that for much of the late 1980s and early 1990s, collection of recyclables grew far faster than industrial capacity to absorb them. Thousands of recycling collection programs were initiated in North American communities in the last decade. According to BioCycle magazine's annual waste management survey, the number of U.S. curbside curb·side
1. The side of a pavement or street that is bordered by a curb.
2. A sidewalk.
Located, operating, or occurring at or along the sidewalk or curb: pickup programs for recyclables grew from 1,042 in 1988 to 6,678 in 1993. This growth, and similar growth in drop-off and commercial-waste recycling programs, led to an extraordinary increase in the overall tonnage TONNAGE, mar. law. The capacity of a ship or vessel.
2. The act of congress of March 2, 1799, s. 64, 1 Story's L. U. S. 630, directs that to ascertain the tonnage of any ship or vessel, the surveyor, &c. of recycled materials collected, from some 16 million tons in the United States in 1985 to 45 million tons in 1993.
Not surprisingly, such rapid growth created a glut of materials. The hundreds of communities all starting up recycling programs at the same time created a structural problem in the recycling economy. Collection programs can be implemented almost as quickly as trucks can be purchased. The capacity to turn the materials collected into new products, however, can take years - and billions of dollars in capital investment - to build. Few communities devoted the same energy to developing recycling industries that they applied to their collection programs. But the market-development efforts of a few influential cities and states - and more recent actions by the U.S. federal government - set the stage for 1994's market turnaround.
The most obvious way to develop markets is to ensure that a guaranteed minimum quantity of goods with recycled content will be purchased. Governments are among the largest buyers of many goods, and among the first prominent market-development efforts were state laws requiring or encouraging government procurement Government procurement, also called public tendering, is the procurement of goods and services on behalf of a public authority, such as a government agency. With 10 to 15% of GDP in developed countries, and up to 20% in developing countries, government procurement accounts of products with recycled content. Nearly all states now have such laws, with widely varying degrees of stringency. In 1993, the U.S. federal government joined in with an executive order requiring that the paper it purchases have 20 percent recycled content by 1995 and 25 percent by 2000. The action immediately guaranteed a huge market for recycled paper, since the federal government, at 300,000 tons per year, is the world's largest buyer of paper.
States have also moved to ensure that large private buyers of some commodities buy a minimum of recycled material. The newsprint market has been most notably affected by such measures. Thirteen states now have standards for minimum recycled content of newsprint; 15 more have negotiated voluntary agreements with newspaper publishers to increase their purchasing of recycled content. According to New York's William Ferretti, the recycled-content standards for newsprint some states enacted in the late 1980s - and the threat of standards in other states - were the primary factors in the newsprint market's shift toward secondary fiber. Then, as publishers got accustomed to using recycled newsprint, they found that it could perform as well as virgin paper, and resistance to its use fell away.
FROM ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
As municipal solid waste officials have realized that recycling can be a cheaper disposal method than land filling or incineration, collection programs have taken off. Faced with market problems, procurement and recycled-content requirements have been governments' first answer. But a few states are now beginning to make a crucial transition from viewing recycling simply as an environmental measure - a waste-disposal strategy - to seeing it simultaneously as an economic development opportunity. The most notable successes have come when economic development offices begin to promote recycling.
New York state took the lead in this area in 1988 when it created the Office of Recycling Market Development within its Department of Economic Development. The office offers financing, technical assistance, and market information - and a helping hand through the regulatory thickets - to companies that use recycled materials. Similar efforts are now underway in at least 18 other states, according to a 1994 BioCycle survey.
Bringing in state, regional, and local economic development officials to help promote recycling helps such businesses get access to a wide variety of proven tools: Industrial Development Bonds and other financing mechanisms, special property-tax treatment, siting assistance, and expedited regulatory action on permits, zoning, and related matters. Twenty-seven states now offer some form of tax incentive for recycling. The Environmental Protection Agency has supported these efforts by establishing a "Jobs Through Recycling" project, which offers grants for hiring Recycling Economic Development Advocates in state economic development offices, and has also helped establish Recycling Business Assistance Centers in four states.
California has become the laboratory for what is probably the most extensive effort in North America to develop recycling industries. The state has created 40 Recycling Market Development Zones, which are, in effect, enterprise zones specifically targeted toward recycling-based businesses. The state's Integrated Waste Management Board offers technical assistance with financing and marketing, and local governments also offer strong incentive packages designed to meet their communities' needs. The Board has approved some $12 million in loans for such enterprises, and is currently considering $3 million more. Board officials - who see the state financing as a bridge to much greater amounts of commercial capital - estimate that the zones have created 1,000 new jobs since the program was established in 1989.
During the long market slump - when cities were offering a few dollars per ton to anyone who would haul away Verb 1. haul away - take away by means of a vehicle; "They carted off the old furniture"
cart away, cart off, haul off
take away, take out - take out or remove; "take out the chicken after adding the vegetables" their newsprint - extraordinarily cheap secondary materials helped lure entrepreneurs into recycling-related businesses. In the long run, however, businesses don't need cheap raw materials so much as they need predictable prices for what they buy and what they sell. In an effort to alleviate the uncertainty and unpredictability of recycled-materials markets, the Recycling Advisory Council (a program of the National Recycling Coalition) has been working with the Chicago Board of Trade Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT)
The second largest futures exchange in the US, and a pioneer in the development of financial futures and options. , one of the world's premier commodities markets, to develop a formal trading system The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Please help [ improve the introduction] to meet Wikipedia's layout standards. You can discuss the issue on the talk page. for recycled materials.
Among the project's elements are the development of product specifications that materials will have to meet to be traded, the design of an electronic trading This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one or [ improve this article] yourself. See the talk page for details. system, development of dispute-resolution procedures, and an effort to inform and involve potential participants. The system initially will be only a cash market, but the feasibility of futures markets futures market, a commodity exchange where contracts for the future delivery of grain, livestock, and precious metals are bought and sold. Speculation in futures serves to protect both the developers and the users of the commodities from unfavorable and unpredictable will be investigated. The system is being tested this summer, and trading in glass and some types of plastic was expected to begin in September.
DOING GOOD... AND MAKING MONEY
During the past year-and-a-half, it has become clear that the recycling industry is maturing. And while recycling is worth doing for environmental reasons, its success will eventually be measured in dollars as well. Recycling is a business. Whether that business thrives will eventually determine the success or failure of community recycling programs.
The broad environmental benefits of recycling - especially, savings in natural resources and energy - will only be realized if manufacturers substitute used materials for a major share of the virgin wood, metals, and plastics they now consume. For this to happen, there must be a large, vigorous industrial sector devoted to taking used materials, processing them, and turning them into salable sal·a·ble also sale·a·ble
Offered or suitable for sale; marketable.
sala·bil commodities. In North America, that sector is clearly now developing on a large scale, at least for some materials - and the environmental benefits, though hidden, are substantial. The United States and Canada are now substituting generally less-polluting recycling facilities for virgin materials industries that are often among the greatest offenders in air and water pollution, energy use, and damage to ecosystems. The United States alone is now saving about 1 exajoule of energy - about 1 percent of total U.S. energy use - each year by recycling municipal solid waste.
With recycling beginning to fall into place, it is time for the next step. Within the limited universe of municipal solid waste (which is only a fraction of total U.S. waste production), growth in recycling appears to be stabilizing the amount of garbage going to landfills and incinerators, which had been growing for decades. Yet, U.S. waste generation is still increasing. In the long run, market mechanisms need to be developed not just to increase recycling, but to reduce the quantity of waste that we generate in the first place. Only then will a truly sustainable materials economy - one that consumes a minimum of virgin products and recycles most of what it takes in - be achieved.
John E. Young is a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute The Worldwatch Institute is a globally-focused environmental research organization. Based in Washington, D.C., the institute was founded in 1974 by Lester Brown. Christopher Flavin is the current president. and coauthor co·au·thor or co-au·thor
A collaborating or joint author.
tr.v. co·au·thored, co·au·thor·ing, co·au·thors
To be a collaborating or joint author of: "He and a colleague . . . of State of the World 1995.