U.S. Recycling Companies Face Upheaval From China Scrap Ban

By Erica E. Phillips
Aug 2, 2018 5:40 PM ET
Scrap shippers have found new Asia markets since China raised the bar on waste imports, but those countries don’t have the numerous shipping connections that exist between the U.S. and China. Above, a plastics recycling center in Hillsboro, Ore. PHOTO: NATALIE BEHRING/GETTY IMAGES

Originally published by The Wall Street Journal

U.S. companies that collect waste for recycling are weighing higher prices and other changes to their operations since China upended the industry when it stopped accepting much of the scrap material Americans have been shipping there for decade.

The top two solid waste services companies in the U.S., Waste Management Inc. and Republic Services Inc., both recently pulled back profit projections in their recycling divisions based on China’s new policies, which have created a glut in scrap markets and sent global prices for scrap material plummeting.

“At this point in time, we have zero volume going to China,” said Richard Coupland, vice president of municipal sales at Republic Services. “We are still able to move material, but our economic model is completely upside down.”

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