On June 14th, I have written a blog with the tile “Recycling Markets: Problematic or Disrupted”. What I was actually writing was simple. The current problems we face in recycling markets are not temporary – most probably they are signs of the greater disruption that’s on the way. The whole recycling and waste management sector is disrupted, first of all, by the rise of the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, the traditional business models are eroded by the emergence of the circular economy concepts that drive towards pure material and product cycles rather than mixed cheap secondary materials.
Few days later, I presented my thoughts in a great ISWA Beacon Conference in Oslo. What I added, during my presentation, was that the current success of recycling in most EU countries makes the disruption even bigger. Because, as long as we can’t stop to collect more and more materials (remember that it took us 10-15 years to learn citizens to divert materials in recycling programs), the more materials we push, the more the disruption created in a market where developing countries are not keen to receive cheap mixed recyclables anymore and the global financial slowdown reduces the need for recyclables. At the same time, as we recycle more and more streams, our systems become more vulnerable to the relevant revenues fluctuations and all of this creates the perfect storm for recycling markets!
I would like to notice that I have found very nice supporting evidence in the Waste and Resources UK report “Managing the Risk from Secondary Raw Material Price Movements Resources & Waste”. It’s worthy to read it.
You can find the presentation I made, with some supporting documents and references, at the Wasteless Future Resources. I hope you will enjoyit!