AOR Blog


If you're like most AOR members, you're feeling a little anxiety about the uncertainty of our recycling markets. China is experiencing our recycling as both a source of feedstock for manufacturing and pollution.

Looking to improve environmental conditions there, China has sent a strong message globally to recyclers and processors: clean up the stream. To show they mean business, they’ve stopped accepting materials, hitting mixed paper and mixed plastics markets particularly hard.  

There is a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions right now - Is this a long-term shift? Will this mean the end of recycling as we know it? Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Why don't we make stuff anymore? Does this open the door to rebuilding domestic processing capacity here state-side?  

While we may not be able to keep calm and carry on, we can take a deep breath and know that we are all in this together, and we are going to get through this together, too.

There are bright spots here. As we all know recycling isn't the end game. It is a practice, when harmonized with reducing and reusing that is still a key component to environmental protection.

Many people still get lost in the quest for not sending stuff to the landfill. This mentality needs to stop. In order for recycling to work, we need to do two things: recycle right (yes, all you wishful recyclers need to stop throwing stuff in the bins with the "wish" that it gets recycled) and create/support/maintain a demand for post-consumer recycled content (aka: Markets).

The mentality we need to instill in our society is seeing recycling as the replacement of extraction feedstocks from logging and strip mining.  There is a great opportunity here to retune our programs and clean up our streams, and be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Recycling will always be here. But how and what we recycle may look differently down the road than it does today, and we have the opportunity in front of us now to shape the path we take.

Short term solutions: Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle right. Long term solutions: Create domestic markets for post-consumer recycled content feedstocks.

We all need to focus on these solutions in our local programs, conversations with friends and family, and our elected officials in order to rebuild our recycling systems locally and nationally.

AOR will host a forum on November 15th, America Recycles Day, to continue the Markets conversation, and I hope you can join us – Remember, we're in this together.

Forum Information:

Recycling Markets and Impacts of the National Sword November 15th, 2017 McMenamins Edgefield - Blackberry Hall, 2126 SW Halsey St, Troutdale, OR 97060
Click here for more information and to register:




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