Like much of life, the recycling industry moves in cycles. Within every cycle is a downturn, and that is where the recycling industry now finds itself. Falling oil prices and cheaper commodities have made recycling less lucrative than it once was. The United States, which typically leads in technological advancement, has unfortunately fallen behind among industrialized countries when it comes to recycling technology.
A Waste360 article from last year, on riding out the recycling downtrend, states that “it might be necessary…to convince communities that the recycling just isn’t always free, especially when commodity cycles are low.” The article also recognizes that if and when recycling falls out of favor, it may be difficult to get generators back into the habit of recycling.
The problem lies in how to keep recycling in the forefront during the economic lull. The solution may be twofold. Technology must continue to advance. For recycling to be a long-term solution, firms must continue to invest in a greener and more efficient approach so that profitability exists even through the lowest point of the cycle. Secondly, generators must remain committed to recycling for sustainability’s sake, not just for cost. It will take a commitment from all sides.
ACTenviro made a major capital investment with the implementation of its Microwave Disinfection Unit, so that medical waste can be converted to energy, rather than landfilled. The waste treatment industry as a whole must remain committed to technological advancement, or the clock will turn back 50 years. The time for a systems upgrade is now. If not now, when?
– Laura Wall, Account Manager