Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recycling the Recycling Business Model

Is recycling just a feel-good exercise in America?

Wild swings over the past few years in the demand for recycled waste material has presented a challenge for communities attempting to promote universal recycling and a rational for communities who are hostile to the very idea of recycling. I hear stories all the time about recycled material "piling up" outside of town because of a weak buyer's market, and I've read about instances where excess recycled stock is periodically hauled off to the landfill. At the same time, manufacturers and contractors use far less recycled material than they could as most stock is too difficult to locate and identify. Who has the time to look for something that may not even be available?

Here's a proposal: Why not set up a national database for recycled materials? The effectiveness of such a structure would hinge upon being comprehensive in nature. This could take the form of a government agency or an industry-funded consortium - take your pick - and it should cover all products, all grades of materials, and all locations withing the US.

A comprehensive database of available material open to all potential buyers will be a big step in closing the environmental loop and making recycling economically feasible in the US.

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