by Dawn Quirk
When we tuned in last semester to the state of recycling both nationally and internationally was in peril. The fallout for large recycling firms from the global economic crisis was a major slowdown as need across the board for project materials dwindled. With a lack of demand for resources and recyclables being an early cut back for many industries, transfer stations burst at the seams with collected materials that had no logical outpost.Flash forward six months… Many of the problems that ailed the recycling industry still persist now but the call around the country tells us “Help is on the way!” No. Wait. That was the 2004 Kerry campaign… But, like many industries around the country the recycling industry has been jockeying for aid via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, i.e. the Bailout/Stimulus/Giveusmoneykthnxbye Bill.
And it came! In part… A recent report from Resource Recycling entitled ”Repairing Recycling: Seven ways the stimulus package affects you” breaks down how the stimulus package will impact the recycling industry. Compared with the astronomical $789 billion package, a relatively modest amount of funds will be divvied out to recycling and waste management projects around the country. However, significantly more impactful will be larger amount of monies invested towards rebuilding infrastructure. $48 billion, for example, is allotted towards transportation projects with metals heavy bridges and rail projects high on the list. In addition, tax rebates to firms that have purchased recycling equipment over the previous five years and funding towards LEED certified projects and could also help create a market for many recycled materials (if the monies actually go towards funding new projects and not bolster existing ones).
In all of this, the recycled paper industry seems to have been left in the dust. There may be some tax breaks available to compensate for capital purchases but the direct path to aid and new markets that will be available to the metals and plastics industries is just not there. So if you’re looking for a copy of Cosmo from July 2008 and your doctor’s office just isn’t quite up to speed yet, check out the stacks at your local transfer station. They’re probably still there.