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Data Corner: How market shifts have hit one municipal program

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In late 2018, officials in the city of Walla Walla, Wash. (population 32,000) issued a report that showed the economics of the city’s single-stream curbside recycling program turned upside down over the course of 18 months.

As the graph below indicates, the city went from earning up to $30 per ton for recyclables in early 2017 to paying as much as $100 per ton a year later. Over the course of 2018, the city’s program lost a total of $130,000.

Walla Walla, which attributed the financial flip primarily to China’s National Sword import policy, has instituted a monthly recycling surcharge on resident bills to help get the program back on solid financial footing. The city’s program collects standard fiber items and plastics Nos. 1 and 2. It does not accept glass.

Data Corner chart, Feb. 2019

Data source: City of Walla Walla, Wash.

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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Our top stories from 2018

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export shippingOver the past year, Resource Recycling’s analysis of turbulence in the Asian import market has consistently grabbed readers. In fact, as the list below demonstrates, almost all of our top 10 stories of 2018 – in terms of unique page views – were focused on Asia-related policies and their effect on global markets.

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