Don’t Let Waste Go to Waste

By Marc Gunther, Alt Energy Stocks:

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

It sounds simple. It’s not.

Just ask Bill Caesar, who runs the recycling and organic growth units of Waste Management (WM), America’s biggest trash company, which has $13.3 billion in revenues last year.

It’s hard to get many cities and towns to embrace recycling.

It’s hard to get homeowners to figure out which plastics go into which bin.

It’s expensive to build out the infrastructure needed to separate materials, and ship them to customers.

And now, to make matters worse, the prices that buyers are willing to pay for cardboard, used paper, metals and plastics have fallen, on average, by about a third. A ton of solid waste used to yield about $150 in recycling revenues, more or less. Today, it’s closer to $100. Here’s a chart.

“The commodities are global in nature,” Bill told me the other day. “When the French stop buying things, the Chinese stop making things, and when that happens, they need fewer boxes and the price of recovered paper in the US falls.”

Who would have thought that the EU’s troubles would slow progress towards zero waste… Read more

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