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How industrial recycling programs should respond to changes in the global market

Friday, August 24, 2018

Industrial recycling is changing as the global market for cardboard, aluminum, plastic and other materials changes. Companies can still reap rewards with a smart, efficient commercial recycling program.

industrial recycling program Waste Equipment


Recycling programs have always been about changing one material — like used packaging — into something else that’s useful. But now industrial recycling itself is changing.

In 2017, China announced it would stop importing most grades of paper and plastic. For decades, the country had been the leading buyer of recycled cardboard, paper and plastic, turning those materials into new products and packaging it could sell to the world as its economy boomed.

When it announced it would no longer take many recyclables, one of China’s chief complaints was “contaminated” material. That meant that non-recyclable materials were mixed with recyclables in ways that made it more expensive and difficult to process.

The result is that the market for recyclables is changing. Don’t panic. Adjusting to the change may take time, but take a step back and reassess your operation because what has not changed are the compelling reasons to continue to recycle.


Benefits of industrial recycling

Though the location of recycling plants and the the multi-billion dollar recycling marketplace may be changing, companies still stand to gain from a cohesive recycling program. Reassessing processes and recycling equipment will improve efficiencies and effectiveness.

  1. Recycling reduces landfill costs. Having trash hauled off to a landfill costs money. The more waste that can be diverted from the landfill, the lower a company’s garbage costs will be. A waste stream analysis helps companies find opportunities to reduce landfill costs and recycle more.
  2. Recycling still produces revenues. Though the value of recyclables may have shrunk as the market shifts away from China and toward new opportunities, cardboard, aluminum, plastic and other recyclables still have value. Companies that recycle these materials can increase revenue directly to the bottom line.
  3. Recycling is an integral part of any “green” initiative. Whether you’re seeking LEED designation for your facility, moving toward a zero-waste to landfill facility or simply want to be more sustainable, recycling is a key practice. Packaging, supplies from vendors and other materials coming into your facility can be recycled, even though the recycling marketplace is changing.
  4.  Recycling strengthens your brand. Consumers generally have more positive impressions of companies who engage in environmentally sustainable practices.  Employees — especially younger employees — report it’s important to them that their employers behave in responsible ways. So, recycling can strengthen your social enterprise bottom line.

Strengthening your recycling program

Whether you’ve been recycling materials for years or are just starting to think about it, here’s how all organizations can strengthen their recycling programs.

First, analyze your current waste stream and recycling solutions. A waste audit can help you understand what you’re doing well and where your recycling program could be improved. It can also help identify new recycling opportunities. 

Even if you’ve conducted a waste stream analysis before, going through the process ensures that your recycling program keeps pace with any changes in the materials that pass through your facility as well as the marketplace for recyclables.

Second, make sure you have the right recycling equipment. Balers for recycling cardboard and other materials are critical to improving recycling efficiency. Recycling needs and equipment capabilities change over time. Take the time to compare your equipment to your operational needs. 

Does the baler handle the current volume and type of materials?  Do you have an overflow of material on the production floor? Is your open top overflowing with shrink wrap and banding?  All of these are signs that business is booming and it is time to reassess your current equipment needs. 

Ready to get started? The first step is a no-obligation phone consultation with a Waste Disposal Solutions specialist who can help assess your needs and strengthen your recycling efforts. Call WDS at 866-428-5748 or learn more about balers for recycling here.