Paper recycling gets costly

February 18, 2009 at 4:00 pm

The global economic meltdown has hit many areas hard. But behind the big news stories of huge banks going bust, well-known stores disappearing from our high streets, and bailouts being thrown around left, right, and centre, there is another area that is suffering: the recycling industry.

Both the BBC and have recently reported on the rocketing costs of recycling paper since the crisis began to pick up speed at the end of last year. Since then, the entire recycling system has been put under almost unmanageable strain as a result of the collapse of the industry in the Far East.

According to, back in September a tonne of mixed paper was bought for £65-£75. But in just a few months, the cost has plummeted to just £15. The price is slightly higher for non-mixed paper, that which has been separated already, which currently sells for £40 a tonne. But this is down from a high of £90-£115 back in September.

Asia, and especially China, is a big collector of the world’s waste, and the UK currently ships a hefty proportion of its waste to the other side of the world to be recycled. But with the rapid drop in demand that has come as a result of the financial crisis, the UK has suddenly been left trying to figure out what it is supposed to do with all those huge mountains of recyclables.

All of this means that councils around the country will be receiving far less money than they had previously budgeted for, and someone is going to have to pay the price. And there’s no prizes for guessing who that will be.

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