Back in the old days, the recycling industry seemed so easy. If I wanted to find out what markets were like, I could call up a few recyclers, and they would tell me what their local consumers were buying, what they were paying and what the transportation terms were. I might pick up a few trends and tips along the way, but it seemed so simple. Yes, there was more to it than that, but it seemed more clear-cut. Business was local; events taking place three states over, let alone a continent away, often had little impact on many recyclers’ daily business.
How things have changed.
Now, when I call recyclers to discuss market conditions, they are likely to mention the impact the relative strength of the U.S. dollar is having on export and import markets; the economic stability throughout Europe; what a slowing Chinese economy means for their businesses; interest rate fluctuations and how they hurt or help their particular material; the price of oil; local, state or federal legislation and regulations; and how financial houses are driving prices for many secondary commodities. For many recyclers, all of this information is needed to figure out what markets are doing and where they are headed in the short term. It is almost as if you have to read the Wall Street Journal to understand what is happening in the recycling industry.
But, as the world economy lurches about, looking for direction, recyclers are becoming far more cognizant of how recyclables fit in. To know where markets are heading, recyclers are analyzing a host of economic factors. More managers stay in daily contact with a number of sources to monitor daily price gyrations.
For long-time recyclers, the need for a wider perspective can seem quite jarring. Having to synthesize a disparate amount of information to conduct business daily creates many challenges. Yes, the influx of MBAs and lawyers into the recycling business is providing professional education to an industry that used to operate on “gut instinct” and personal relationships. However, many long-time recyclers are not necessarily intimidated by the flurry of charts, statistics and information they are now consuming to determine where recycling markets are heading. One thing that is quite apparent is that recyclers are willing and, in fact, very adept at adapting to a new business environment.
Recycling Today apologizes for the error.