Sorted plastics at a recycling facility.

Readers last year were drawn to news that Brightmark is seeking over 1,000,000 tons of difficult-to-recycle plastics for chemical recycling. | hiv360/Shutterstock

Economic uncertainty and operational changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic affected virtually every business sector in 2020, and the recycling industry certainly felt the impacts. But materials recovery professionals were also navigating ongoing volatility in commodities markets, heightened awareness of plastics management problems, and much more.

Amid all the activity (and anxiety), what developments were our readers most drawn to?

The list below shows the 10 most-read Resource Recycling online stories of 2020, in terms of unique page views. The most-viewed story is listed in the number 1 slot at the bottom, so be sure to scroll all the way through.

10 | Another Asian country bans imports of mixed paper
NOV. 3: Vietnam, a relatively small market for U.S. mixed paper, noted it will no longer allow imports of the material beginning in 2022.

9 | Details on India’s mixed paper import crackdown
JAN. 14: India, the largest overseas market for U.S. mixed paper, at the very start of the year tightened quality standards and reduced its recycled fiber import volume.

8 | Scrap paper, plastic and metal prices all rise in December
DEC. 15: As the year came to a close, MRFs were largely seeing good news across the board, fetching higher prices for OCC, mixed paper, aluminum, natural HDPE and other materials.

7 | Republic: COVID-19 brings ‘uncontrollable challenges’
MARCH 31: As the country was just coming to terms with the severity of the pandemic, Republic Services predicted major changes in the residential and commercial recycling landscape.

6 | Recycling operators sound off on packaging EPR
DEC. 22: Haulers and MRF operators noted it’s critical that extended producer responsibility proposals are crafted well – both to preserve what already works and allow for much-needed changes.

5 | Paper and plastic export numbers take historic dive
FEB. 6: Our analysis of 2019 export numbers showed recovered fiber exports from the United States experienced their largest year-over-year decline while scrap plastic exports also continued a substantial fall.

4 | Plastics recycling bill introduced to Congress
JUNE 16: As summer approached, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives put forth legislation focused on reducing plastic waste and bolstering plastics recycling.

3 | China confirms expanded import ban starting Jan. 1
DEC. 1: The Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced details about the country’s ban on all materials it classifies as “solid waste,” including recovered fiber.

2 | Coronavirus pandemic disrupts recycling sector
MARCH 17: The global escalation of COVID-19 in late winter was hampering some North American recycling programs, impacting Chinese users of U.S. recovered fiber, constraining global shipping, and threatening an economic recession.

1 | Brightmark seeking 2.4 billion pounds of US mixed plastics
AUG. 4: A chemical recycling firm grabbed the attention of many processors and program leaders when it announced it was on the hunt for a massive quantity of plastics Nos. 1-7, material it planned to use at pyrolysis facilities.