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The changing nature of global recycling

The process and economics of recycling is global and is changing quickly.
Here’s why these changes mean you might be experiencing price increases in order for us to sustainably and responsibly recycle your waste.

Have you heard of Operation National Sword?

There has been a lot of media coverage about the Chinese Government’s National Sword initiative, but what does it mean?

Last year China announced that it would no longer allow importing of 24 different recyclable materials and that quality standards for accepted materials would increase dramatically.
This has meant that western countries, from New Zealand and Australia to the USA and European nations, can no longer send these recyclables to China for manufacturing into new products.This has particularly impacted plastics and paper.

This means all of this material now needs to find new buyers who can use that material to make their products. Some of this material has found new markets in other Southeast Asian countries, but due to scale and size of the Chinese market, they are unable to take all of the volume. It also means the prices are very low and there is still a lot of material to be sold.

In Australia, and in some places in New Zealand, the material is being stockpiled and councils, businesses and communities are struggling to cope.

The process and economics of recycling is global and changing quickly. Mixed recycling has become more costly and problematic from a safety, contamination and sorting perspective.

What does this mean for your recyclables?

You will be pleased to know that Waste Management has some very good companies who buy the recyclable materials we process for our customers here in New Zealand. That said, the prices have dropped and we are seeing much stricter requirements in terms of quality. Contamination levels need to be very low.

Basically, this means, the costs for processing recycling materials are getting higher, and the price received for those materials is lower.

As a result, prices for collection and processing of recycling are increasing here in New Zealand and globally.

What can you do?

You are likely to see prices increasing for the collection of your recycling material. This is a market shift that is happening globally. To make sure we maintain our markets for the recyclables we are continuing to sell at reasonable prices, we must maintain low levels of contamination and very good quality.

So, make sure you only place acceptable materials into your recycling bins. Not sure what is acceptable?

See here for some key tips.

Download a PDF version here.

Still unsure?

Give our team a call and we can talk you through it.
0800 10 10 10




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