mrf tipping floor

SWANA report examines the value of recyclables

The organization’s CEO says the recovery in pricing has been “one of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

November 2, 2021

Following China’s ban on the import of several recyclables, some curbside recycling programs faced challenges. However, beginning in 2020, commodity prices for recyclables have recovered strongly in many cases, benefitting local recycling programs, according to a new report from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland.  

In “Recycling Markets Have Strongly Recovered Since National Sword,” SWANA reports the prices and demand for recyclables from municipal curbside recycling programs have rebounded and are close to record highs in the U.S. and Canada. The report quantifies how much commodity prices have recovered from 2020 lows and discusses how increased domestic demand and consumer brand commitments to use recycled materials have improved market conditions.

“One of the very few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the remarkable recovery of recycling prices,” says David Biderman, SWANA CEO and executive director. “This is encouraging investments in new technologies at MRFs and new carts at municipalities.”

The report cites the Northeast Recycling Council’s Report on Blended MRF Commodity Values in the Northeast from April to June 30, when the “blended” value of a ton of recyclables recovered at MRFs in New England increased by 160 percent to $134.26 compared with April through June of 2019.

Biderman announced the report and provided an update on recycling markets in his remarks at Wastecon’s Opening Ceremonies in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 1.

The full report can be downloaded at