Recycling waste piles up as prices plunge

Nov. 6, 2008 at 11:43 AM
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LONDON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Tons of paper, plastic and metal collected from British recycling bins may be stored at former military bases because of a collapse in prices, officials say.

This is because the "bottom fell out of the market" for mixed plastics, mixed paper and pre-recycled steel, and they are now worthless after reaching record levels in the summer, The Times of London reported.

The price for mixed plastics, for instance, fell from about $320 a ton to nearly zero in only four weeks, said Stuart Foster, a project manager at Recoup, which advises on plastic recycling.

The price plunge was caused by a sudden fall in demand for recycled materials, especially from China, as manufacturers cut their output as the global economy collapsed, the Times said.

Officials from Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Wales' Environment Agency are expected to issue new guidelines next week that would relax rules limiting the quantity of waste that can be stored, the newspaper said.

The new rules would also permit thousands of tons of ready-to-be-recycled paper, plastic and metal to be kept in secure warehouses or abandoned military bases and former airfields.

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