CVP Blog - November 2008

As commodity values fall, we must remain consistent in our communications

The recent fall in recycling commodity values is having a widespread impact. If you are a recycling coordinator with a revenue share, you no doubt have felt this decline in your pocket book. Even if you don’t have a revenue share, you are likely still feeling it through your various recycling service providers. Much like housing prices, market prices for recycling commodities had been at a historic and unsustainable high. This market correction was expected but has been exacerbated by the credit crisis and overall global economic state.

What’s important to understand is that this is not the end of recycling. This has happened before and things will re-adjust. What’s important to consider now is how we communicate to the public. The public does not necessarily understand the value message in terms of recycling anyway. Additionally, they typically don’t care unless it means money going directly into their wallet. With that said we cannot confuse them or give any indication that they shouldn’t continue to recycle with the same vigor. Recycling is just as important now as ever. 
Jerry Powell of Resource Recycling recently put it well in an EPA RCC Web Academy Webinar discussing the declining value in recycling commodities. He said that in terms of communicating the decline to the public we should (hypothetically) move the discussion to the Business Page of the newspaper and off the Metro or Local Page. In other words, much like the housing industry, automotive industry and countless others, recycling is currently being affected by the global credit crisis. That’s it. The economic slowdown is resulting in a recycling slowdown. It will rebound but in the meantime, we should not AND CANNOT let the general public feel like their recycling is no longer beneficial or needed.    

Steve Thompson is the Program Director for CVP and can be reached via e-mail at

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