I am recycling coordinator for local government in rural North Carolina.
My local market for PET and HDPE is encouraging me to expand our collection of HDPE #2 to include all bottles and jugs (laundry detergent, shampoo, etc). We currently collect only #2 milk and water jugs. About a year ago this market agreed to include tinted (yellow) milk jugs with the untinted, but it would lower the grade and therefore our price. He told us at the time that if the market falls the tinted would be the first that has to go, and if our collections continued to include this type of material he might could refuse it. The issue here is that it is very difficult to Un-learn the public of recycling a particular material; once a program starts it tends to stick, despite education efforts such as Newspaper articles and signage. The above scenario has not occurred as the HDPE market has been stable and doing well. Since we are getting lower grade price for our #2 material anyway, and prices are rising overall, why not start collecting ALL HDPE #2 bottles?
I am concerned about market instability even with the connection to oil prices and the current crisis. (Some folks I've talked to predict that the prices will stay up based solely on oil prices. I'm not so sure...I could use insight here) Also the chance that once it is collected as a recyclable material it would be difficult to have the public consider it contamination. Because of our location, markets are few and far between there is little room to "play" the markets. We tend to stick with the one's we've got, so I don't want to get stuck myself later down the line...
On the other hand, the waste reduction opportunity here is significant. I would like to persue it.
Knowledge? Advice? Experience?
Pass it on! (I am not ashamed to admit that I am relatively new at this. Does it show? I appreciate greatly peer input)
Waste Reduction Coordinator
Waste Management Division
Pittsboro, NC 27312
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