Market forces put America's recycling industry in the dumps
A crash in the global market for recyclables has pushed an already stressed recycling industry to the breaking point.
Mountains of paper have piled up at sorting centers, worthless. Thousands of tons of recyclables left at the curb in dozens of cities and towns have gone to landfills after processing centers shut down or imposed high fees. Instead of making money selling recyclables, some cities are being charged hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rid of them.
It all stems from a policy shift in China that closed its doors this year to all but the most pristine recyclables. The resulting glut of recyclables has caused prices to plummet. While new markets are being developed, recycling advocates have launched programs to get people to recycle right to reduce contamination.