Our goal is to help you achieve Sustainability and Zero Waste in the 21st century.
Sound Resource Management Group, Inc. has been working to shrink pollution footprints, reduce waste and conserve resources throughout the US and Canada since 1987. We have experience working with hundreds of businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations.
♦ Updates on Recycling Market Prices – updated through December 2022 and showed substantial decline from their peak in 2021, dropping to an average of $116 for 2022 and bottoming out at $53 in October. The entire price series discussed here and portrayed on the graph has been revised to reflect only prices for the 8 major materials collected curbside in the Pacific Northwest — mixed paper, newspaper, cardboard, container glass, aluminum cans, tin cans, PET containers, and HDPE containers. Furthermore, newspaper market prices are essentially the same as mixed paper prices beginning in 2019 due to the sharp declines in publications of daily newspapers in printed format. Recycling prices for these 8 materials collected curbside from households were $145 per ton over the 12 months of 2021, up from an average of $67 in 2020 and $60 per ton in 2019. Prices for curbside recycled materials in 2019 had exhibited the volatility and downward trends that began in the second quarter of 2017, much of it in reaction to China’s National Sword campaign to decrease contaminants and garbage in recycled materials imported into China. During the third quarter of 2017 the Chinese government announced plans to ban imports of some recycled materials. These bans took effect early in 2018 and strongly affected mixed plastics and mixed paper, as well as depressing other paper and paperboard prices. Also, it is interesting to note that price cycle bottoms since the price spikes in the mid-1990s have tended to average in the neighborhood of $50 per curbside collected ton. This may indicate a reasonable number to use when attempting to calculate downside recycling market price risk.
♦ Three Recent 2020 Studies Available — The first was conducted for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Metro on the economic costs of the nine environmental impacts covered in SRMG’s MEBCalc environmental benefits calculator (here). The other two cover the triple benefits of recycling and organics diversion programs in Seattle, WA — disposal reductions, rate payer costs savings and large economic benefits from environmental improvements. One was published in Resource Recycling and concentrated on data and graphics for recycling (here). The other appeared in BioCycle Connect discussing Seattle’s triple successes for their organics diversion programs (here).
♦ Two Recent 2018 Presentations Available — One on energy, environmental and economic trade-offs that are confronted when managing wastes for sustainability and resiliency (here). These slides were presented at the 2018 Northwest Regional Economic Conference. The other an in depth look at recycling prices that affect the economics of recycling (here) presented in the Green Business Certification International TRUE Markets 2018 webinar series. Both presentations provide graphs and information critical for making sound choices among recycling and disposal material management options.
♦Carbon in Wastes – Burn It or Store It? – Check out the slides here from our presentation at BioCycle’s 2017 Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling conference (REFOR17). They show that for many materials in our household and business waste streams the release of carbon pollution from burning wastes for energy is more environmentally damaging than storing their carbon in modern landfills. For example, fossil carbon in materials such as plastics does not biodegrade to methane and carbon dioxide in a landfill. Over 80% of the biogenic carbon in materials such as wood and newspapers does not biodegrade either. Furthermore, burning waste materials to generate electricity releases substantially more carbon per kilowatt hour than do true renewables, such as solar or wind, or than does fossil natural gas. In other words, it often is better to use more efficient fuels to generate energy in order to maintain storage of carbon already sequestered in waste materials. This produces lower life cycle carbon emissions than using wastes as fuels and implementing energy intensive carbon capture technology to make up the climate damaging difference. See a table here showing landfill carbon storage rates for various waste materials. The table also shows minimum levels of modern landfill methane capture necessary to achieve lower climate impact than burning waste materials for energy.
♦ SRMG introduces latest version of Measuring Environmental Benefits Calculator MEBCalc™ 6.1. Download the user guide and technical documentation here.
♦ Rhythms and Reasons in Pricing by Dr. Jeffrey Morris (Sound Resource Management Group) and Pete Pasterz (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality) published in May 2017 issue of Resource Recycling magazine. Article reprint available here. More information on the magazine and other articles published therein available at the magazine’s website.
♦ Peer-reviewed article LCA Harmonization and Soil Science Rankings Results for Food Waste Management Methods by Dr. Jeffrey Morris, Dr. Sally L. Brown, Dr. H. Scott Matthews and Matt Cotton published in Environmental Science & Technology, May 2017. Abstract and article available here.
♦ New study by Dr. Jeffrey Morris for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality now available here — Oregon Recycling Markets Price Cycles and Trends: A Statistical Search for Significant Economic Causes provides answers to two important questions. (1) What are the primary economic causes for cycles and trends in recycling markets prices, and (2) Have these causes changed in recent years.
♦ Our life cycle assessment (LCA) of wood waste management options Recycle, Bury or Burn Wood Waste Biomass? — LCA Answer Depends on Carbon Accounting, Emissions Controls, Displaced Fuels, & Impact Costs is now published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology’s (abstract and article available here). The LCA study shows that burning wood wastes to produce electricity and/or heat as a substitute for natural gas fuel is more environmentally harmful than burying wood in a landfill with a landfill gas collection system. Burning wood for heat as a substitute for coal is also more harmful than landfilling unless the coal combustion facility is burning high sulfur coal without adequate air emissions controls. The overall conclusion is that recycling into reconstituted wood products or papermaking pulp is environmentally best when those options are available. Otherwise burying tends to be preferable to burning despite the latter option generating more power and/or heat energy than landfilling.
The article also shows the importance of biogenic carbon accounting methodology in ranking climate impacts of recycling, burying and burning. For example, ignoring biogenic carbon dioxide emissions from wood waste management methods elevates combustion options from worst for the climate to being best versus either recycling or landfilling options. Examples are cited of studies and greenhouse gas accounting protocols that ignore biogenic carbon dioxide emissions.
In addition to evaluating climate impacts, the study evaluates wood waste management options on the basis of human respiratory, cancer and non-cancer impacts and ecosystem acidification, eutrophication and ecotoxicity impacts. The study also ranks options on the basis of an overall score derived from estimated costs for each of the seven environmental impacts.
♦ New graphs posted to Virgin vs. Recycled page — carbon footprints for virgin-raw-materials-content products versus recycled-materials-content products; and carbon footprints for fuels used to generate electricity, including wood wastes and municipal solid wastes (aka, garbage).
♦ SRMG’s Dr. Jeffrey Morris interviewed and articles cited for Public Broadcasting System (PBS) SciTechNow website post on February 16, 2016 available here.
♦ Watch Dr. Jeffrey Morris’ short testimony before the Washington State Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee hearing February 9, 2016 on I-732, a legislative initiative by the people to institute a revenue neutral carbon tax that also reduces the regressivity of Washington State’s tax system. The entire hearing video is here. Morris begins at the 66 minute mark and, after testimony from another speaker, includes answers to questions from the committee’s chair after the 68.5 minute mark.
♦ Catch The Wall Street Journal Report – Energy debate: Does Burning Garbage for Electricity Make Sense? featuring our own Dr. Jeffrey Morris in print edition for Monday, November 16, 2015. WSJ.com online version here.
♦ The Seattle Story – Resource Recycling Article, November 2015
What You’ll Find Inside
Learn about the Consumer Environmental Index, CEI™, developed by an SRMG-managed team of economists and environmental life cycle experts to calculate environmental and human health impacts resulting from consumer spending.
Read about the latest development from our team, the Measuring Environmental Benefits Calculator, MEBCalc™, designed to evaluate and compare the environmental and human health impacts of a community’s waste management methods.
Find out valuable information about Recycling Markets and markets related to recycling to help you track and anticipate price trends for recycled materials.