Tucked away in an article about how recycling has become a losing proposition and recycling companies and facilities are deeply in the red, was a surprising reason.
“Trying to encourage conservation, progressive lawmakers and environmentalists have made matters worse. By pushing to increase recycling rates with bigger and bigger bins — while demanding almost no sorting by consumers — the recycling stream has become increasingly polluted and less valuable, imperiling the economics of the whole system,” Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post wrote on June 20.
The companies are losing money trying to sort through and dispose of non-recyclable materials tossed into recycling bins by the overzealous.
The Post said that despite cities and counties propping up recycling operations with millions of dollars each year, the losses continue. Profits have been falling and costs have been rising for the last three years, and some large recycling plants have already been closed.
Losses in recycling are so bad that David Steiner, CEO of the nation’s largest recycler Waste Management, told CNBC his company stopped investing in recycling operations all together.
The very enthusiasm of recycling proponents is to blame. Steiner told the Post, “If people feel that recycling is important — and I think they do, increasingly — then we are talking about a nationwide crisis.”
According to The Post, the crisis worsened because even though the demand for recyclables has dramatically dropped in recent years, the recycling facilities were forced to process an ever increasing amount of waste.