It's a difficult time for recycling advocates. I remember in times past, some towns would simply drop their programs until it was again profitable. Of course, dumping all this in landfills carries its own costs:
Sonoco Recycling, which processes bottles, cans, jars and papers collected from Raleigh homes, sent a truckload of metal cans two weeks ago to a smelting plant in Pennsylvania.
As recently as August, the load would have been worth about $7,500. Not now, though. Instead of receiving payment, Sonoco had to pay the shipping to get the plant to accept the cans.
"It cost us $240 in freight, and I was giving it away," said Jim Foster, plant manager of Sonoco's materials recovery facility in Southeast Raleigh. "There is no way to win right now."
People are still putting their bins of recyclables out on curbs. But the recyclable materials market, which was booming only a few months ago, has dropped sharply, along with the worldwide economy, creating a backlog of materials at processing plants.
Reduced demand for used paper, plastic bottles, glass, and metal cans has caused prices to plummet, surprising even those who have followed the ups and downs of the recycling market.