From Lazy to Lively: U.S. Recyclers Clean Up Scrap

Old ways of thinking in the industry must change to enhance the quality of exported recyclables. The U.S. is changing the way we collect and sort scrap since China added more strict quality standards. This week, Berg Mill Supply Co. discusses the challenges the U.S. continues to face and what is being done to tackle the issues.


A Change in Thinking

Recyclers are taking a closer look at the scrap that is collected and sorted before exporting it to other countries. When China closed their doors with tighter restrictions, it put the U.S. in a bind and also affected prices. Materials are piling up in landfills and warehouses, and prices are taking a significant dip.

The Wall Street Journal calls attention to Ravago Recycling Group’s commercial manager, Robert Render, to weigh in on the issue. He reveals, “We got lazy…that mentality has to change.” China’s changes have forced the U.S. to pay closer attention to the quality of the scrap being exported. The attitude has shifted from lazy to lively, as the U.S. has become more proactive in developing new processes to deal with the changes. Some recyclers are working to create cleaner scrap loads to increase their value while trash haulers are also taking steps to better manage waste.

Residential recyclables are difficult to decontaminate, as the collection and sorting process requires more time and attention. Most recyclables are collected in one pick-up, increasing the likelihood of contamination, especially for paper. Recyclers are working to reduce this by implementing alternate solutions, such as collecting different types of scrap in separate weeks.


A Cleaner Process

Because China no longer accepts shipments with a contamination level above their new 0.5% standard, processors are trying to attract China and new customers with cleaner scrap. The U.S. has experienced trouble in maintaining contamination levels but is rolling out new processes to ensure the export needs are met.

Most plants are processing less scrap each hour to give its machinery and workers more time to separate paper and catch contaminants. U.S. recyclers are working hard to sift through scrap to make recyclables more valuable and profitable.


An Opportunity for Profit

Other companies are looking to make profits through Renewlogy, a company focused on converting mixed plastic into oil. Even if oil prices drop, the conversion would still be profitable due to low production costs and demand. The materials can be bought inexpensively or at no cost to produce diesel, gasoline, and other industrial chemicals, according to The Wall Street Journal. Alternative solutions continue to be explored as the U.S. works toward creating a more sustainable future.

At Berg Mill, we continue to work hard to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, opening markets in other countries, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities. We would like to help you move off any paper, plastic, or metal scrap. Berg Mill has the expertise and know-how to navigate through these troubled waters.

If you handle large amounts of recycled waste and are looking for solutions to offload idle scrap, please contact our industry veterans at Berg Mill Supply.