Recycling Market Impact on Counties

Counties are experiencing recycling budget shortfalls because of the changes in global markets

For years, China has been the United States' largest customer for household recyclables. In 2017, China began implementing policies – often referred to collectively as National Sword – that restrict the importation of foreign recyclables. Many counties have been hard hit by China's National Sword policies, especially in the market for mixed paper.

 The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) convened a stakeholder meeting on August 29 to develop solutions for struggling local recycling programs. NYSAC interviewed several county solid waste managers at the meeting to get the county perspective.

 “Counties are experiencing recycling budget shortfalls because of the changes in global markets,” said William Rabbia, Executive Director of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority and President of the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management. “In the face of market volatility, we need to focus on producing the best quality recyclables. Educating residents on how to recycle properly will be an important part of the county response.”

Counties are requesting state and federal support to ride out this crisis. Without it, residents will pay more for curbside recycling, recyclables will be landfilled, or counties will have to transfer funds from other critical services to pay for the increased cost of recycling. NYSAC encourages the DEC to continue and expand grant programs that support recycling education and equipment upgrades.

 “Counties play an important role in sustainable waste management,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “It is important we maintain recycling efforts that are essential for conserving natural resources and keeping waste out of landfills.”

Listen to NYSAC Podcast: Recycling and Impact on Counties