Recycling operators across the country two years ago were enjoying record high values for old corrugated containers. Now, they are either storing the material, unloading it at little profit or sending loads to disposal.
OCC, which constitutes a large and growing percentage of the residential recycling stream, has dropped well below its price at any point in at least two decades, according to industry experts. A price sheet from fiber market analyst firm RISI called the current price a 25-year low.
So far, 2019 has brought month after month of price drops, which came after relative stability last fall. What that means for MRF operators and municipal programs is revenues plunging further and a previously fast-moving commodity collecting dust.
“We have no choice but to store,” said Dale Gubbels, CEO of Nebraska-based First Star Recycling. “We’re sitting on quite a bit of it.”