Mixed-paper has hit an all-time price low, with each ton trading for just $5. Downward pricing has also been seen with other fibers, but plastics have shown increasingly strong values lately.
Leaders from Waste Management and two giant consumers of recovered fiber last week detailed the variety of ways their operations have been impacted by recent import shifts in Asia. They also laid out some ideas to help lift material quality.
Recyclables exported out of the U.S. are moving to Southeast Asia, where reclaimers and mills are dramatically increasing purchases as China closes its doors to recovered materials. New figures illustrate that shift.
The global recovered paper market experienced “a quite challenging year” in 2017, according to an expert at paper industry research firm RISI. And those challenges are only expected to continue as Chinese import restrictions ramp up.
Update: China has filed its official contamination proposals with the World Trade Organization, and they list a 0.5 percent threshold for most recyclables, down from the 1 percent limit that was previously considered.
China will shift its planned threshold for contamination in scrap paper imports from 0.3 percent to 1 percent, seemingly in response to concerns the original proposed limit would be impossible to hit.
Republic Services reported higher recycling revenues during the third quarter, and it expects its acquisition of MRF operator ReCommunity will boost tonnages it processes by about half going forward.