As costs skyrocket, more U.S. cities stop recycling

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“U.S. cities have done a great job recycling, but as the (overseas) demand lowers, the value of these materials also decrease,” said Dwayne Archer, assistant public works director for the city of Longview.

That equation has forced some cities to rethink their recycling programs.

Prompting this reckoning is China, which until January 2018 had been a big buyer of recyclable material collected in the United States. That stopped when Chinese officials determined too much trash was mixed in with recyclable materials like cardboard and certain plastics. After that, Thailand and India started to accept more imported scrap, but they, too, now are imposing new restrictions.

The turmoil in the global scrap markets began affecting American communities last year, and the problems have only deepened.

With fewer buyers, recycling companies are recouping their lost profits by charging cities more — in some cases four times what they charged last year.

An excerpt from News-Journal