Realities and Challenges of Recycling
Recycle Right—always follow directions provided by your hauler/collector and when in doubt, ask! Putting the wrong items in your recycling bin cause contamination, which hurts the market value of the recyclables.
Recycling markets are not constant, and fluctuate based on many economic factors. When markets are recessed, the materials have a lower value. National and international policies and actions directly affect the recycling market.
Cardboard, aluminum, steel, grades of plastics, mixed paper, electronics, and glass are considered commodities and are sold EVERY DAY to local businesses in Alabama. "Recycling Works in Alabama"
Landfilling vs. Recycling:
In Alabama (where the cost to landfill is relatively inexpensive), it can be difficult for a government agency to absorb a net loss by supporting a a recycling program. At times, land filling costs less. When supporting a recycling program, it's important for community leaders to remember that over time the true benefit of recycling is seen in cost savings from diverting landfill disposal costs and the return on sold items at market value - not to mention the positive impact from selling recyclables to local businesses.
In 2019, our society uses less paper due to digital technology, but more cardboard because of increased online shopping and shipping. That, plus the newer lighter weight aluminum cans and plastic bottles has lowered the overall volume of recyclable items. With these and other changes being made in the industry, a ton of recycled materials looks very different from 5 or 10 years ago and has a generally lower value per ton (depending on market value).