The president of the Iowa Recycling Association says a perfect storm has come together to cause the price of recyclable materials to plunge.

Alan Schumacher says part of the problem is some Iowans think everything can be recycled and they’re bogging down the system with trash that should go to the landfill.

“Garden hoses, somebody must think those are recycling, so they’ll put that in there or mayonnaise jars that are half full,” Schumacher says. “People have to handle that material and then, we’ve got to have end markets for it.” Business in former end markets like China and various Third World countries has been drying up, Schumacher says, but China is now looking to get into the recycling business on American soil.

“They’re buying up some of our paper mills on the East Coast and up in Wisconsin and the north-central part of the United States,” Schumacher says. “They’re going to start putting money into these mills and buy recovered fiber domestically and then send the pulp or finished byproduct overseas for themselves now. Instead of exporting the material and having to sort through it, they’re going to do that here.”

In the new legislative session opening next month, he says the association will be pushing Iowa lawmakers for an enhanced bottle bill, including more money for redemptions of five-cent bottles and cans. “It would spring up new facilities and new locations all over the state of Iowa and we could be collecting all of this material,” Schumacher says. “We have buyers for aluminum. We have buyers for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) water bottles. We have buyers for Gatorade bottles. We just need to get ’em collected.”

Instead of being recycled, recent reports found 20 tons of paper per day were sent to landfills in central Iowa this summer because China tightened the standards on what it would accept. Dozens of companies and governmental entities are members of the Iowa Recycling Association.

(By Brian Fancher, KLMJ, Hampton)