White signs on sides of Denver’s curbside recycling pick-up vehicles declare: “Recycling. It’s easier than ever.”
But today recyclers say it’s increasingly difficult to move mounting heaps of plastics, cardboard, bottles and newspaper that Denver residents enthusiastically stuff into purple bins.
The problem: The ultimate end-users of recycled material â largely factories in Asia â aren’t buying as much as they did when the global economy was growing. Prices paid to recyclers, which once topped $150 a ton, plunged by 70 percent last fall and have stayed relatively low.
That leaves recycling plants, such as Waste Management Inc.’s single-stream facility in Denver, struggling to get rid of the heaps.
In Boulder, Eco-Cycle, a nonprofit, has found itself paying to get rid of materials such plastics and single-layer cardboard that, in better times, could be sold, said Eric Lombardi, executive director.
To solve some of the storage problem, Lombardi said, it would help if Colorado built a paper mill and plastics-grinding facility along the Front Range. He added that the steel mill at Pueblo could be used strategically.
“But the state government isn’t involved,” he said. “That’s the problem. We need a new materials economy.”
Across the country, recyclers have started to charge for curbside pick-up and to stockpile materials in hopes that prices will improve, said Ed Skernolis, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition.
Read the full story at DenverPost.com.