Junk hits junk status

posted at 4:55 pm on December 9, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Or, as the New York Times puts it, “trash has crashed”.  The economic downturn has hammered the recyclables markets, dropping the price of trash so low that it has once again become junk.  No one wants to buy the material, leaving aggregators with their hands full of garbage:

The economic downturn has decimated the market for recycled materials like cardboard, plastic, newspaper and metals. Across the country, this junk is accumulating by the ton in the yards and warehouses of recycling contractors, which are unable to find buyers or are unwilling to sell at rock-bottom prices.

Ordinarily the material would be turned into products like car parts, book covers and boxes for electronics. But with the slump in the scrap market, a trickle is starting to head for landfills instead of a second life.

“It’s awful,” said Briana Sternberg, education and outreach coordinator for Sedona Recycles, a nonprofit group in Arizona that recently stopped taking certain types of cardboard, like old cereal, rice and pasta boxes. There is no market for these, and the organization’s quarter-acre yard is already packed fence to fence.

“Either it goes to landfill or it begins to cost us money,” Ms. Sternberg said.

The recyclable markets were fueled in part by demand from China, which provided a price support for the industry so strong that the value increased the closer trash was to a port.  No longer.  With a decline in  manufacturing, China has less need for raw materials and has stopped buying the product.  As a result, middlemen have switched from paying for the material now charge to accept it.

Will this be the end of recycling programs? Not immediately.  Even the middlemen who have begun charging rather than buying still cost less than traditional disposal companies.  They can still sell some of the material, although at a greatly reduced price and with more sorting and culling required.  For most people and communities, though, recycling will go to a purely cost basis rather than providing a return.

Penn and Teller foresaw this coming.  In a seminal episode of their television series Bullshit, the two exploded many myths about the recycling cause.  You can see a clip of the second-season episode here.


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Hehe… you said seminal.

/juvenile

Abby Adams on December 9, 2008 at 4:58 PM

What does this mean for hotties that have “junk in the trunk”?

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on December 9, 2008 at 4:59 PM

Full recycling episode here for those interested.

MadisonConservative on December 9, 2008 at 4:59 PM

Yet another liberal “solution” that turns out to be worse than the problem that it was meant to solve.

My collie says:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

CyberCipher on December 9, 2008 at 5:00 PM

If China’s industry collapses (which I doubt) then we’re going to see a lot more prices for stuff decreases like-
oil
steel
copper
brass
and the list goes on…….

Badger40 on December 9, 2008 at 5:01 PM

Looks like the auto industry workers have a new bold task ahead of them. Dealing with our waste.

grdred944 on December 9, 2008 at 5:05 PM

Quit staring at my junk.

whitetop on December 9, 2008 at 5:06 PM

This is bad timing for me. After we bought our newish car, we ignored the old one, which wasn’t in great shape but was still running. Nearly a year later, we had a friend of a friend interested in buying it, but it wouldn’t start. Now, I’m on notice to get rid of it or else my apartment complex will tow it away, and I can’t find any “buy used cars, running or not” places willing to take it from me.

Just goes to show that you should never let a car sit for a year like that.

Esthier on December 9, 2008 at 5:08 PM

My county (GWINNETT, GA) has just stealthily “unprivatized” our trash collection as of 1/1/09. My private company is now charging me a $23.50 deactivation fee. That company picked up my trash today, and also took their receptacles! Where do I put my trash from now until 1/1/09??

The worst part to me is that the county is putting their trash fee on my PROPERTY TAX bill. Now they want to fine anyone not recycling $500!!

This is all done by RINOs, all decisions and their contractors and plan were announced 11/7 – AFTER THE ELECTION.

Brat on December 9, 2008 at 5:09 PM

My next door neighbor saves cans. I give him mine as well and usually take him to the recycle center to cash them in. They were paying about 85 cents a pound and within a few weeks it dropped to 25 cents a pound.

roux on December 9, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Penn and Teller foresaw this coming. In a seminal episode of their television series Bullshit, the two exploded many myths about the recycling cause. You can see a clip of the second-season episode here.

so, the prohibition on potty language has been lifted?

eh on December 9, 2008 at 5:20 PM

so, the prohibition on potty language has been lifted?

eh on December 9, 2008 at 5:20 PM

It’s the name of the show. Tissue?

MadisonConservative on December 9, 2008 at 5:21 PM

Look for all that trash to be recycled into the US Gubmint Trabant 2.0, much like the East Germans recycled their trash into the original Trabant.

And while 2.0 can stand for many things (such as the version number or number of hamsters under the hood, or the amount of cargo it would hold in cubic feet), it won’t stand for the displacement of the engine (mainly because it won’t have an internal combustion engine).

steveegg on December 9, 2008 at 5:21 PM

Not reported: New York Times has also hit “junk status.”

BKennedy on December 9, 2008 at 5:24 PM

I’m getting the feeling that the price of R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco Company will suddenly be rising.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on December 9, 2008 at 5:27 PM

Tissue?

MadisonConservative on December 9, 2008 at 5:21 PM

I don’t even know you!

eh on December 9, 2008 at 5:29 PM

a-hem…

I don’t even know you!

eh on December 9, 2008 at 5:31 PM

Going off on a tangent, this entry made me decide to add Bullshit! season 1 to my Netflix queue. Only, i couldn’t find it by title. “Odd,” I thought. “I know it’s on DVD.” So I searched by “Penn” and “Teller.” This time I found it. Yay! I also discovered that, to find it by title, one has to type “Bullsh*t.” Yes, with the asterisk, even though the cover image of the DVD has it spelled correctly. I mean, does Netflix think I’m going to be offended by the title of something I’m looking for?

Yeesh.

irishspy on December 9, 2008 at 5:42 PM

Homeless and poor hardest hit we now need a bailout of the recycling industry so the homeless can still buy their booze

goat on December 9, 2008 at 5:49 PM

I mean, does Netflix think I’m going to be offended by the title of something I’m looking for?

Yeesh.

irishspy on December 9, 2008 at 5:42 PM

As someone who works in the TV listings business I think I can answer that question.

We provide all sorts of clients with our information and because someone who is just flipping channels (or reading through a paper, or wherever else our information is), might not intend to watch porn, we even censor our porn descriptions.

That doesn’t mean we use symbols, but we write descriptions for those programs that are suggestive without being graphic. And we also use *s for titles of programs that aren’t G rated.

For instance, we list a title of South Park as “Eek, A P*nis!” Anyone who is sensitive about the word penis really shouldn’t be watching South Park anyway, but we have to cater to everyone.

Esthier on December 9, 2008 at 5:52 PM

Esthier on December 9, 2008 at 5:08 PM

Sorry about your car! My Ford Escort started after sitting for 5+ years, but we knew we were lucky. Did you put new gas in it?

If not, try putting it on eBay with a low starting bid and somebody will buy it. There’s probably not much really wrong with it.

angelat0763 on December 9, 2008 at 6:55 PM

Let’s hear it for free markets. Time to rid the economy of dead ( and dying) wood and start anew with more efficient, more cost-beneficial enterprises. Viva capitalism!

petefrt on December 9, 2008 at 6:59 PM

Recycling, like global warming initiatives, will be a taxpayer funded scam. Recycling does not have to exist on a purely market basis, or any market basis at all. If it did, it wouldn’t exist. Even if there was no market for trash, recycling will never go away because the government will simply subsidize the activity. This is in keeping with the liberal view of the galaxy, what I call the Gene Roddenberry gene. In their future galaxy, most aliens speak English, Earth has one world government, we are allied with thousands of different alien races, all peaceful, and most importantly, there is no more need for money. Things, like galaxy class starships get built, and the entire society functions without a profit motive. Just as Karl Marx said was not only possible, but most efficient.

Read your Star Trek people. It’s like reading Marx & Engels. That is the world the liberals think will be created if we let them have their way. If faster-than-light travel is possible with their system of communal federation-wide effort, do you honestly think they are going to let recycling be sidelined by something as drôle as the capitalist market?

(only the disgusting Ferengi care about profit. That’s why they are made to look like such misshapen little trolls. It’s a shot at the founding principles of free enterprise and capitalism. As much as enjoyed ST:NG, half the episodes had a distinctly left wing moral story. The writers and producers of sci-fi are notoriously uber liberal)

keep the change on December 9, 2008 at 7:19 PM

Can’t they burn the plastics for heat? We are going to need it.

tarpon on December 9, 2008 at 7:29 PM

From the headline, I thought the story would be about the New York Times stock price…

dominigan on December 9, 2008 at 8:54 PM

Junk hits junk

Prop 8 FTW!!

abobo on December 10, 2008 at 12:23 AM

keep the change on December 9, 2008 at 7:19 PM

And as a lifelong Star Trek fan, you can imagine the disillusionment I faced when I came to this conclusion
about my favorite show.

Well said. And sadly true.

Hawkins1701 on December 10, 2008 at 1:23 AM

I mean, does Netflix think I’m going to be offended by the title of something I’m looking for?

Yeesh.

irishspy on December 9, 2008 at 5:42 PM

It’s for when the computer says “Hey if you like ________, you might also like ________!”

Whoops, Grammaw Sue doesn’t like “_________!”

TMK on December 10, 2008 at 3:00 AM

If the Chinese are not buying our trash, what will they make products to sell to us from?

Vashta.Nerada on December 10, 2008 at 10:05 AM

This is good news for me, I buy old newspaper to make cellulose insulation. I watched the price climb to over 180/ton, then crash to its currant 25/ton in just a few months. I now have all the raw material I need at a good price. This just goes to show that the free market works, one person’s loss is anothers gain type of thing.

aceinstall on December 10, 2008 at 12:27 PM