CSWD: Recyclables see jump in value

Chittenden Solid Waste discusses prices of recyclables.
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 8:18 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The things we recycle can have a whole new life, and people are paying to get them.

“Recycling is actually doing really well financially for communities,” said Reagan Bissonnette, with the Northeast Resource Recovery Association.

Recyclables have seen a 115% jump in value since last year. Bissonnette says right now it makes no sense to be throwing away good materials.

“Recycling is a business and companies don’t want to pay good money for trash, they want to pay money for products they can use,” said Bissonnette.

Recyclables are a hot commodity in the open market with single-use milk jugs currently valued higher than aluminum.

“We’re happy that people are asking questions because we want them to feel confident in this system and that’s what we are here for,” said Michele Morris with the Chittenden Solid Waste District.

CSWD handles one of two material recovery facilities in Vermont, where recycled materials are collected and sorted. Morris says using Chittenden County as an example, 80% of all possible blue bin recyclables are collected.

“That speaks to how much our community cares and how much they paid attention to the education we have done over the last 30 years,” she said.

Of the collected material, only 7% is considered contaminated or residue, meaning 93% goes to market. Morris says a common misconception is that it just gets thrown out, but it’s too valuable.

In 2020, $3 million in revenue was generated for Vermont by collected material. But for peace of mind, even after it leaves Vermont, it gets checked on.

“We are going and visiting the facilities that are receiving this material,” said Morris.

Bissonnette says recycling facilities are a growing industry, especially in paper products.

“We are actually able to do more and more domestic recycling, especially of cardboard and paper products,” said Bissonnette.

While domestic North American recycling grows, the responsibility falls on consumers to continue to generate good recyclable materials.

“It’s not really that recycling is broken, it’s that we have a problem when people are trying to recycle things that aren’t recyclable or aren’t readily recyclable in their community,” said Bissonnette.

Officials say to make sure your recyclables are clean when placing them in your blue bins.

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