Manufacturers Respond to Changes to International Recycling Policies
We've been talking a lot lately about China's ongoing scrap recycling restrictions, and today we are going to discuss how some of the effects of the ban are impacting manufacturers in the United States. Before the ban went into effect at the start of 2018, the United States exported more than 27 million tons of plastic waste to China and other countries for recycling, rather than doing that recycling domestically or dumping the plastic in our landfills. However, China's ban severely restricted the types of waste and the quality of that waste that could be imported into the country, leaving the U.S. and other countries around the world scrambling to find alternatives.
Recyclable Waste Piling Up
China's new policies have lead to a buildup of recyclable plastic waste in the U.S. and many other countries. Domestic recycling facilities are still unable to handle the influx of materials, forcing much of the waste to end up in landfills rather than being recycled. Companies are also losing out on income from selling those materials to Chinese importers, causing them to look for new solutions to our growing waste problem.
For starters, manufacturers have begun implementing a technique known as lightweighting. Basically, this means using fewer materials to create their products, thus producing less waste in the process, recyclable or otherwise. Many manufacturers are also shifting toward buying and using recycled materials to use in manufacturing their products. At the state level, many governments are instituting producer responsibility laws. These laws dictate that it is the manufacturers that must cover the costs of disposing of their waste. This financial impact is designed to encourage manufacturers to step up their recycling and conservation efforts.
Increasing Demand for Recycling Services
This isn't a problem that can be solved overnight, so we expect to continue to see ripples throughout the waste industry over the coming years. Demand for plastic recycling services has been increasing in the United States over the last year, and we expect this trend to continue going forward. As new materials have been added to China's ban this year, as well as increased quality requirements, it is likely that this increased demand for recycling services will spread to other materials as well, including steel and other metals.
Over the next several months, we'll continue to cover these ongoing developments to keep you up-to-date on what is going on in the industry. If you have questions about China's ban on recyclables or about the impact the ban is having here in the United States, we at Central Kentucky Fiber Resources will be happy to answer them for you. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the ban and how it might impact your business in the future. We work hard to be experts in this area, and we will gladly pass our knowledge on to you.