“We’ve obtained the easy tons. Now we have to go after the hard tons.” Those are the words shared by Jerry Powell, Executive Editor at Resource Recycling, in his presentation about recycling’s outlook during the opening session of the annual Indiana Recycling Coalition Conference last month.
Powell elaborated, “After two decades of important growth, recycling’s rate of increase has declined. We are capturing the easiest tons, thus making growth harder and more expensive than in the past.” He then went on to share a dozen issues and trends that will shape the future of recycling. These included:
- The evolving ton: Today’s ton of recyclables has far more plastic, far less fiber, and no growth for metals.
- More aggressive programs: Landfill bans, product bans, pay-as-you-throw and mandatory participation are predicted.
- Adding food discards: Powell predicts food waste to be added to existing organics collection and composting systems.
- Growing Extended Producer Responsibility: With some needed revision, this will become the prevailing waste management model in the coming years, except for paper and packaging.
- Continued consolidation: Recyclables will be collected and processed by fewer and fewer players.
Powell’s presentation was informative and educational; we struggled to catch all the pertinent information he shared! Fortunately, you can read Jerry Powell’s full presentation.
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