Have you ever heard this before? “Well, we’d like to recycle that material but there are no markets.” There’s a good chance that this phrase just isn’t true any more. The fact is that the Southeast is a hotbed of strong recycling markets. For example, did you know that Georgia is the largest user and manufacturer of recycled PET (beverage bottles) in the country? And that the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers is looking for ways to help local governments increase participation in recycling programs because their members need more post-consumer plastic bottles?
For example, if you’re looking for paper markets, the Southeast has some of the strongest recycled paper markets in the country. The American Forest and Paper Association would tell you that their members rely on recycled paper and are in need of more high-quality material.
So, if there are such great markets in the Southeast, how do you find these markets for your materials? To learn more about the most commonly recycled commodities, visit EPA's Commodities page. For local information, contact your state solid waste and recycling office about regional recycling markets and material exchanges. The Southern Waste Information eXchang (SWIX) is also a helpful tool.
Even though there are great markets in the Southeast, our work is never done. There are several organizations working to develop markets and assist recycling businesses in the Southeast. South Carolina and North Carolina have state offices dedicated to assisting recycling businesses within the state. The Small Business Development Program is available to help aid any of the region’s recycling operations.
Waste exchanges also can be a great resource for local governments or businesses looking to recycle less traditional commodities. Click here for a listing of several waste exchange Websites.
Rural recycling can have added challenges. One could argue that the goal for operating a cost-effective recycling program is operating at the lowest cost per ton of material handled, right? That’s often a difficult task for rural communities handling small amounts of materials. The Recycling Marketing Cooperative for Tennessee identified this issue as a challenge for many Tennessee towns and now works to partner communities with similar collection programs for easier movement of recyclable materials. It’s a model that can be adopted by other regions.
- Resource Conservation Challenge is a national effort to conserve natural resources and energy by managing materials more efficiently.
- Full Cost Accounting (FCA) is an accounting practice that can help local governments identify, assess, and manage the actual costs of MSW programs. FCA can help make informed decisions about MSW operations, facilitate cost-saving efforts, and better plan for the future. The Web site contains publications, contacts and links, and questions and answers on FCA.
State / Regional Resources:
- State and local recycling representatives can help with local recycling markets, programs and issues.
- Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) works to unite industry professionals, government agencies and individuals engaged in the business of recycling.
- Southern Waste Information eXchange, Inc. (SWIX) is a clearinghouse and repository for businesses and government agencies looking for information regarding recycling and solid waste.
- National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) is a source for information on the vast array of electronics recycling.
Other Trade Associations:
- Information about can and bottle recycling is provided by America’s Beverage Companies.
- Container Recycling Institute is a source for information on all types of container recycling.
- American Plastics Council is a source for help regarding plastic recycling opportunities and programs.
- Glass Packaging Institute is a one-stop resource for the latest news, trends and other helpful information about glass packaging and glass recycling.
- Steel Recycling Institute is a source for information regarding steel recycling opportunities.
- Paper Industry Association Council (PIAC) serves as a source for information on paper recycling opportunities.
- Carolina Recycling Association is dedicated to conserving resources by advancing waste reduction in both North and South Carolina.
- Georgia Recycling Coalition works to complement and coordinate activities relative to recycling throughout the state.
- National Recycling Coalition is a membership organization of recycling professionals and advocates dedicated to maximizing recycling.
- Recycle Florida Today is a professional association for individuals engaged in the business of recycling that is dedicated to educating people about the skills and techniques of recycling.
- Tennessee Recycling Coalition is a non-profit organization made up of members representing private business, federal and state agencies, cities and counties, non-profit organizations, trade associations, educational institutions, and individuals dedicated to promoting the adoption of recycling and waste reduction programs in the state of Tennessee.