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[GreenYes] Re: Suggested Responses to Markets Tanking

And let me add to that last thought of more local markets.  If we had, as was proposed in 1994 by some on the NRC Board, a national "minimum content law" for all products "made in the USA" or, "imported into the USA", then we would have more solid markets for all this discarded material we've recovered and pushed successfully into the world market.   The NRC vote was 50/50, and that wasn't high enough to pass. 

I suggest it is time to start creating an platform from GRRN GreenYessers to the Obama EPA, and the first two items I nomintate for the list are:
(1) ban the burial of untreated biodegradable discards into landfills.  Germany has done this, and now all mixed waste must be "stabilized" (through anaerobic digestion or windrows) before being buried.  This will prevent the creation of methane from landfills in the future;
(2) create "minimum content standards" for all products made or imported into the US.

Those two should keep us busy for the first year anyway!


From: pslote@no.address
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 12:54 PM
To: "GreenYes" <GreenYes@no.address>
Subject: [GreenYes] Re: Suggested Responses to Markets Tanking

As Bob points out, worldwide demand (and anticipated demand) for the
products that use our recovered materials as feedstock, is drastically
down. But the other, equally important factor in this market is that
credit to conduct business is extremely difficult to obtain. Sound
familiar? Every container of recovered material back-hauled to China
(not quite as energy-intensive in the context of our trade deficit)
depends on letters of credit, absent which orders simply are not
placed. In this respect the economics of secondary materials are no
different from virgin materials, or many other sectors of global

(Plus, this is happening in the slow season for some secondary fiber
markets, with the packaging for the Christmas sales season long out
the door, and the busy season for agriculture product largely done for
the year.)

We created this "inelastic" supply of materials and pushed it into the
global supply system with great success, and displacing vast
quantities of virgin resources in the process. So it should not come
as a surprise that when the global trade economy catches pneumonia,
our recycling markets are knocked on their backs.

The local food movement talks about how shorter, decentralized food
chains can be more resilient than the industrial food supply system.
Is there a corollary for the manufacturing sectors that consume our
secondary materials? What would be the equivalent of local farms in
the world of paper mills, and what portion of the 54 million tons of
paper delivered to markets last year could it consume?

Peter Slote
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