NRC Award’s Luncheon featured keynote, Jerry Powell, founder/owner of three respected industry magazines, Resource Recycling, E-Scrap News and Plastics Recycling Update. After a witty opening on journalists and journalism, Jerry Powell’s keynote address began with an admonition that despite seismic trends rocking the recycling industry, we need to be calm. Recycling remains very successful, and recycling systems are flexible and resilient. He went on to outline the most important trends in play:
- Landfilling remains too cheap. Nebraska’s low disposal cost is a barrier to recycling.
- Energy will remain cheap. Low oil and natural gas means cheaper virgin plastics compete with recovered plastics.
- Declining exports. We can no longer cheaply dump recovered materials into China. investments here by Chinese recycling firms.
- The new economy will change recycling markets. The “Amazon effect” has flooded recovered paper markets.
- The evolving ton. There is less paper, more plastics (up 25 percent), no growth for metals, and a reduction in materials intensity in products.
- More stewardship programs. Extended product stewardship will become the prevailing waste management model in the coming years.
- Food discards. More communities will add food discards – both commercial and residential – to organics collection and composting systems.
- Continued consolidation. More and more recyclables will be collected and processed by fewer and fewer players.
- Continued sustainability actions. We will see significant governmental and corporate involvement in recycling.
- Washington may help recycling. General bipartisan support exists for the passage of a large infrastructure bill to rebuild roads, airports, piers, etc. increasing demand for materials.
- Systems are changing. Communities are making important changes to boost recovery, such as Lincoln’s OCC landfill ban; reduce contamination; ban certain products (bags, straws, etc.)
To view Jerry’s address, videos and photos of the Awards Luncheon, etc. visit https://nrcne.org/2018-annual-awards-luncheon.