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SOURCE: Wall Street Journal

DATE: August 5, 2018

SNIP: U.S. companies that collect waste for recycling are weighing higher prices and other changes to their operations since China upended the industry when it stopped accepting much of the scrap material Americans have been shipping there for decade.

The top two solid waste services companies in the U.S., Waste Management Inc.and Republic Services Inc., both recently pulled back profit projections in their recycling divisions based on China’s new policies, which have created a glut in scrap markets and sent global prices for scrap material plummeting.

At this point in time, we have zero volume going to China,” said Richard Coupland, vice president of municipal sales at Republic Services. “We are still able to move material, but our economic model is completely upside down.”

According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc., 31% of U.S. scrap commodity exports worth a total of $5.6 billion were sent to China last year.

Global prices for used materials have plummeted, so Republic loses money on most of the recycled scrap it now sells overseas.

That cost is increasingly likely to get passed along to U.S. households and businesses. Some cities and towns could decide that keeping their recycling services is simply too expensive.