Scraponomics Episode 107: The Paradox

Nov 19, 2015, 02:12 PM

“Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley

I hesitated writing another episode about the downturn in the commodity markets because we usually try to keep Scraponomics, not only educational, but upbeat. But after being forced to temporarily lay off some really great staff members, I feel it’s worth pointing out the paradox of our industry’s nationwide current economic and environmental state.

You see, people seem to want recycling to happen. The public looks for recycled packaging while shopping. Politicians continuously call for higher recycling rates, whatever that means. And yet, from regulations to foreign policy, we make it very difficult for the industries that make recycling happen to function.

From a regulatory standpoint, we spend a LOT of money to adhere to the ever-changing regulations that are imposed, which only increase and become more onerous every year. You’d think we were Big Brother if you looked at some of the information we’re required to take from customers in order to purchase recyclables. In foreign policy, the US has not yet decided to tariff imported steel, which makes it cheaper for manufacturers to buy, but is also partially to blame for the cratered commodity markets. And when the value of commodities goes down, so does the ability to recycle them, along with the jobs of the people who make it happen.

This level of disconnect troubles me. We keep saying we want to encourage recycling, but our actions are speaking much louder than our words. The answer isn’t in a democrat or a republican. It’s in understanding that if we want to take scrap and re-melt it into new products, we need to stop doing things that strangle the scrap industry.

It may not seem like a big deal at the moment. Tell that to the people we just laid off this week.


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