Recycling Works Newsletter Winter 2019

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

In the Winter 2019 Recycling Works issue:

Market Update: Reflecting on 2018

Recycling markets around the world experienced major disruptions after Chinese import restrictions went into effect in early 2018. The N.C. Recycling Business Assistance Center (RBAC) tracks quarterly pricing trends for household recycling commodities. Prices are averages from three recycling processors located in the state’s eastern, central and western regions. The two graphs below show quarterly prices over the past five years for containers and fiber.


Fortunately for North Carolina, the southeastern United States has strong processing and end-use markets for PET and HDPE, which kept markets fairly insulated from market instability seen in other parts of the country. Values for these commodities remained relatively steady throughout the year, finishing 2018 at values slightly higher than at the end of 2017 with the most growth seen in HDPE Natural pricing. Aluminum value dropped during the last two quarters of 2018, which is a trend seen nationwide as a result of Chinese tariffs imposed on scrap imports.

Fiber markets, on the other hand, have not been insulated from the effects of global market shifts. Exports of mixed paper and old corrugated cardboard (OCC) to China dropped significantly leading to an abundance of supply in the United States. Except for office paper, fiber materials experienced a sharp decrease in market value that remained low for most of 2018. In addition to lower prices, material recovery facilities (MRFs) and processors are being held to higher quality standards, which requires investments in labor and equipment to remove contaminants. With the value of mixed paper hovering just above $0, some MRFs returned to separating paper into higher-value material grades (e.g., office paper, magazines). This is a reversal of the trend seen for the past several years. Although the immediate future of fiber markets is unclear, demand for recovered fiber is expected to grow during the next couple of years, which should lead to improved pricing. According to the Northeast Recycling Council, 15 paperboard mills have announced plans for construction or expansion in the United States. The list includes:

  • Ecomelida will open a new facility in South Carolina to process food and beverage cartons, and paper mill byproducts;
  • Shanying will reopen a closed paper mill in Kentucky to consume OCC and potentially mixed paper;
  • Nine Dragons, China’s largest fiber company, is purchasing an existing mill in West Virginia to consume office paper, newsprint and other grades;
  • Cascades will temporarily reopen a closed mill to produce linerboard and corrugated medium, using OCC and mixed paper;
  • Pratt Industries will open a new cardboard mill in Ohio, which will consume OCC and mixed paper; and
  • International Paper will convert a facility in Alabama to produce linerboard and containerboard using OCC.

Reminder - Request for Proposals: Regional Recycling Infrastructure Grants

The N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS) reminds you of a new grant funding opportunity available to local governments and private businesses through the Regional Recycling Infrastructure Grant program

Eligible applicants include local governments or private recycling businesses who are partnering with local governments. Grant funds must be used to develop new infrastructure or upgrade a MRF or recycling transfer station that will serve customers from multiple counties.

Proposal Deadline: None – applications accepted on an ongoing basis

Maximum Grant Award: $80,000

Minimum Cash Match: 20 percent of grant award 

Contact: Matt James, (919) 707-8133

N.C. Recycling Business Grants Spur Private Investment, Job Creation

State recycling business grants awarded this spring are expected to generate approximately 38 new jobs, spur more than $1.3 million in new, private business investments and further reduce the state’s dependence on landfill disposal. Seventeen companies that collect, process and manufacture new products with recycled materials will receive $511,000 in funds from DEQ’s Recycling Business Assistance Center in 2019. 

“Recycling businesses provide high quality jobs for North Carolinians, spur economic growth and keep valuable materials out of the waste stream,” said DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. “These businesses convert recyclables into raw materials for American manufacturing companies. The result is stronger local economies that use less energy, rely less on imported materials, and are more resilient to global market shifts and changes.  The projects funded by these grants help build more sustainable and resilient North Carolina communities.” 

Awarded grant projects include: 

  • Expanding plastic processing capacity: Seven companies will increase the quantities and types of recyclable plastic they are able to process, including PVC, colored HDPE, and post-industrial plastic by installing new shredding, sorting and screening equipment.
  • Upgrading material recovery facilities to increase processing capacity: Two companies will add equipment to better manage incoming volume and effectively sort plastics into higher value grades. 
  • Building recycled end-product manufacturing capacity: One company will manufacture new products using recycled rubber and plastic.
  • Increasing shipping efficiency of recyclable materials: Three companies will increase shipping efficiency of recycled materials by upfitting an abandoned rail spur and purchasing trailers for improved transportation.
  • Expanding domestic processing of other materials: Two companies will expand food waste processing and improve end-product compost quality by installing new technology. One company will improve material identification to expand carpet recycling, and another company will increase collection of construction and demolition debris for recycling.

For additional information, read the 2019 awards press release or go to the Recycling Business Development Grant Program website. For questions, please contact Sandy Skolochenko at (919) 707-8147. 

Register Now for the Carolina Recycling Association Annual Conference

The Carolina Recycling Association (CRA) will return to South Carolina this year holding its 29th annual conference at the Charleston Area Convention Center March 18-21. Recycling professionals from North and South Carolina as well as well as different parts of the southeast will attend the conference. In addition to tours, workshops and sessions, the exhibition hall will feature vendors representing various recycling companies and equipment manufacturers. 

The Carolina Recycling Association will host an evening networking event Tuesday, March 19, at Henry’s on the Market in downtown Charleston. Tickets are $25, and include several shuttles to and from the heart of Charleston, refreshments, and access to a private room at Henry’s while enjoying stunning roof-top views of Charleston. 

For more information or to register, please visit the Carolina Recycling Association website.

Anti-Contamination Workshops and Messaging 

Anti-Contamination Workshops and Messaging

The Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS)and the CRA co-hosted two contamination workshops in December in Greenville and Newton. The turnout at both events was outstanding. Thank you to all who attended! The workshops featured speakers from DEACS, local governments and private companies, including MRFs and haulers. Presentations are available on the CRA website

New Recycling Outreach Materials

At the workshops, DEACS presented new tools to help haulers, MRFs and communities educate customers on contamination issues and what to recycle. These include materials like the social media toolkit, accepted materials standardized guideline signage, brochures, mailers/postcards, OOPs tags and talking points for productive communication with decision-makers. All of the tools are available online, including some Spanish versions. 

DEACS staff can customize these tools for individual community or business needs. Contact Mel Gilles for assistance.

New Recycling Outreach Materials

10 Steps to Stop Contamination

Mel Gilles, DEACS education and outreach coordinator, gave a presentation on “10 Steps to Stop Contamination.” The steps below are what recyclers or haulers can do tomorrow to reduce contamination: 

  1. Use Statewide Guideline Signage – standardized list of accepted materials statewide;
  2. Provide Training and Messaging – consistent communication across communities, employees, haulers, MRFs and local governments;
  3. Maintain Standardized and Consistent Bin Set Up – ideas include Twin the Bin, color code, consistent signage and stationary bins;
  4. Give OOPs Tags at the curb – direct feedback and encouragement at the curb;
  5. Use Brochures – wide selection available on the DEACS website, including accepted list and schedule of curbside pick-up or drop off locations;
  6. Pay for Advertisements – example: customizable bus advertisements;
  7. Provide Direct Mailers/Postcards – for a concise message to highlight top issues;
  8. Use the Social Media Toolkit – DEACS offers 12 ready-to-post images with text and The Recycling Partnership has many more; 
  9. Provide Additional Materials – Know Your No’s, Reduce Single Use, Office Guidelines;
  10. Believe that education works and that it’s worth it.

Announcements and Opportunities

  • Mar. 9-12: C&D World 2019, the annual meeting of the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association, will take place in Brooklyn, NY. Experts will provide information on the economy, today’s tight labor market, biochar, recycled concrete, C&D glass and asphalt shingle end products.

  • Mar. 11-13: Plastics Recycling Conference 2019 will take place at the Gaylord National just outside of Washington, DC. The event brings together international plastics reclaimers, equipment manufacturers, brand owners, brokers, government officials and leading sustainability voices to move the increasingly complex international plastics recycling industry forward. Last year’s conference attracted nearly 2,000 attendees from 35 countries. 

  • Always Available: NC WasteTrader is a free online platform to market reusable or recyclable commodities. Businesses, industries, recycling companies, waste haulers, local governments, institutions and other commercial generators of waste commodities can visit NC WasteTrader to list available and wanted materials, and search for potential new feedstocks. For further information and assistance, contact Tom Rhodes at (919) 707-8140.

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.