Articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Delaware County Times this summer bemoaned the dire straits of municipal recycling and painted a dark picture of its future. The recycling commodity market had bottomed out. Recycled materials were worth less than nothing. China—for years the strongest recycling market—no longer was accepting U.S. materials. Too much contamination, they were saying. Recycling from the U.S. is not clean enough. Consequently, the articles read, the cost of municipal recycling hauler contracts would skyrocket. Does it even make sense to recycle at all, they queried?
Media Borough contacted its hauler, J. P. Mascaro, to see where they stood. Mascaro owns and manages Total Recycle, a 2016 state-of-the-art recycling facility in Birdsboro, PA. Sam Augustine, Mascaro’s director of sales, responded, unfazed by the bad news. Rather than considering folding, he said, Total Recycle is aggressively expanding their facilities, and their business is growing.
Total Recycle’s equipment is nearly brand-new and is highly effective. Because of this, the facility is not facing the problems described in the newspapers. For one, its machinery can pick out plastic bags that accidentally fall into the stream (one of the main contaminants in single stream recycling), so they do not jam up the works, as they do in older facilities. It is able to produce a very clean product for which they still have strong markets, both nationally and internationally.
Municipalities like Media Borough, Sam said, are progressive and will continue to recycle. We have a different marketplace now; prices may go up because of market changes, and inevitably, because of the cost of doing business. But the problems facing the market are short-term; single stream recycling will continue. “There has always been an up and down market with recyclables—supply and demand. There is a challenge now, but things will change. Mascaro looks long-term.”
See Coming in 2019: FPP Recycling for news of Total Recycle’s upcoming expansion to include flexible plastic packaging in late 2019.