Recycling Works Newsletter Summer 2018

RBAC's quarterly newsletter discusses current topics of interest to recycling businesses, including information on financing opportunities, commodity markets and new technologies.

In the Summer 2018 Recycling Works issue:

Weathering Market Adjustments of National Sword

For months, those in the recycling industry have felt the impacts of China’s recent change in import policies. While the southeastern United States is faring better than other parts of the county, local impacts are still being felt in North Carolina with rising processing costs and declining material values. With ongoing reports about recycling challenges, it is important to understand this complex issue.

The reasons to recycle remain the same. Recycling creates jobs, and spurs local economic development and private investment. Recycling creates high-quality end-products. Recycling conserves natural resources and saves energy. Recycling reduces dependence on landfills.

Your business is one of more than 650 in the state with employees and livelihoods dependent upon quality recyclable materials as supply. It’s important for local and industrial collection and diversion programs to continue feeding materials into the system while focusing on the heart of the matter: quality and quality.

Unwanted materials in recycling are costly to remove and strain the economics of the entire system. Maximizing the capture of recyclables from the waste stream and minimizing the things that do not belong are the key to stabilizing the market and ensuring that local collection and processing systems are efficient, effective and resilient.

What can the private industry do to respond?

  • Educate customers to keep contaminants out. The Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS) developed a free toolkit to help.
  • Continue to invest in infrastructure to improve and expand domestic processing of post-consumer and post-industrial recyclables, so materials can be fed back into the economy as valuable manufacturing feedstock. 
  • Consider applying for grant funding to invest in infrastructure improvements. 
  • Commit to buying products with recycled content to close the loop and drive demand. 
  • Be up front about anticipated price increases. Advanced notice and transparency about higher processing costs and lower market values will allow customers – be it haulers, individuals or local governments – to plan ahead and brace for change.

The Recycling Business Assistance Center (RBAC) is available to help! Contact Mike Greene at 919-707-8137 or Sandy Skolochenko at 919-707-8147.

Sonoco Raleigh’s Optical Sorter is Reducing Contamination in Mixed Paper

Sonoco Recycling recently completed installation of a new optical sorter at its Raleigh material recovery facility (MRF). Sonoco was awarded a $33,000 Recycling Business Development Grant in 2017 to help purchase the equipment to clean up material quality at the MRF. Sonoco installed an optical sorter on the mixed paper line to remove flattened aluminum, plastic containers and other contaminants that make it through the automated paper screen. The optical sorter has allowed Sonoco to reduce mixed paper contamination by at least a third and possibly as much as one-half, resulting in a cleaner and more marketable end product. Additionally, the containers that were previously exiting the MRF in mixed paper bales are now rerouted to the container line where PET, HDPE and aluminum are appropriately sorted into higher value commodity streams, resulting in additional revenue for the MRF.

Staffing Updates 

The Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service is pleased to announce the addition of two new employees to its Recycling and Materials Management Section.

Bruce Fulford began work in June as the new organics recycling specialist. He provides communities and businesses with technical assistance regarding composting and organic material management. He comes to North Carolina with 20 years of experience managing his own composting facility that served the City of Boston, Massachusetts. Bruce can be reached at or (919) 707-8123.

Mel Gilles began in July as the new recycling education and outreach specialist. She provides technical assistance and resources to help businesses, local governments, schools and the recycling industry promote waste reduction and recycling in North Carolina. She comes to North Carolina from Boulder, Colorado, with extensive experience in recycling and zero-waste initiatives, having served as Commercial Sector Sustainability Manager of Eco-Cycle. Mel can be reached at or 919-707-8127.

Coming Soon: 2019 Recycling Business Development Grant Cycle Kickoff

The 2019 Recycling Business Development Grant program’s Request for Proposals, including the application materials, will be posted on RBAC’s grant webpage in mid-September 2018. It is anticipated that the 2019 Recycling Business Development Grant priorities will focus around materials impacted by foreign recycling import policies. For more information, contact Mike Greene at 919-707-8137 or Sandy Skolochenko at 919-707-8147.

Repeal of Privilege Tax for Recycling Equipment

Effective July 1, 2018, sales and purchases of qualifying equipment for specific industries (including recycling) are no longer subject to the one percent privilege tax. They continue to be exempt from sales and use tax. 

Purchases that qualify for sales tax exemption are outlined in N.C. General Statute 105-164.13 (5k) and include equipment, fuel, piped natural gas and electricity purchased by recyclers.* 

*The statute refers specifically to secondary metals recyclers; however, a secondary metals recycler is defined in N.C. General Statute 105-164.3 (37g) as a person that gathers, obtains and converts metals and items that have served their original economic purpose. The RBAC has confirmed with the N.C. Department of Revenue that the bold clause broadens the applicability to recyclers of any material – not just metal. 

See the N.C. Department of Revenue's Important Notice about the July 1, 2018 change, and visit the NCDOR website for more information and applicable forms.

Register Now! Recycling Business Connections Returns to North Carolina

Mark your calendar! The highly successful Recycling Business Connections networking event is set for Tuesday, Oct. 9 in Greensboro. Hosted by RBAC, the Carolina Recycling Association and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, this business-to-business networking event will provide a unique opportunity for recycling business owners and operators to forge new partnerships. Register today to take advantage of early bird rates. 

Announcements and Opportunities

  • Sept. 25: Plastic Bale Sorting Best Management Practices Webinar from the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR). Learn about APR’s standardized guidelines for plastic bale sorts and how they can benefit material recovery facilities, municipalities and reclaimers.

  • Oct. 15-18: Biocycle REFOR18, the 18th annual national biogas conference, will be held in Raleigh this fall. Make valuable connections and learn from the experts in anaerobic digestion, biogas, renewable energy, composting and food recovery. 

  • Oct. 22-24: Resource Recycling Conference in St Louis, Missouri, brings together the recycling industry’s most influential policy leaders, CEOs and government officials. Conference topics include materials processing trends, tactics to boost diversion rates, legislative talking points and market analysis. 

  • Nov. 6: Sustainable Materials Management: A Compliment or a Barrier to Recycling? Webinar from the Association of Plastics Recyclers. Learn about the basic principles of sustainable materials management and why recycling should remain a crucial element in its adoption. 

  • Nov. 12-14: Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) Summit in Charleston, South Carolina, will provide a platform to identify successes and challenges around fighting contamination, creating cohesive relationships, and improving markets. This premier event brings together influential industry leaders, policy makers, budget decision-makers, government officials and key recycling organizations. 

  • Nov. 12: Carolinas Plastics Recycling Council Annual Meeting will be collocated with the SERDC Summit. The meeting will offer networking opportunities and will cover current topics in the plastics recycling industry including how purchasing policies can innovate demand, the "Your Bottle Means Jobs" outreach campaign. 

The Recycling Business Assistance Center (RBAC) is a program of the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS) that provides technical, business and financial assistance to recycling companies.