SWANApalooza: How the industry is (and isn’t) adapting, post-China

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

China scrap discussions often come back to reducing contamination and expanding domestic capacity. SWANApalooza’s opening panel in Denver had plenty of that, with some hints about where the conversation goes next. According to Brent Bell, vice president of recycling for Waste Management, that won’t include changes in collection. “I don’t think we’re going to go backward on the dual-stream ways. I think that ship’s already sailed,” he said.

Other panelists agreed single-stream is here to stay and new technology emerged as one potential way to combat persistent contamination found in carts. “A lot of the innovation and a lot of the new investment was into adding materials,” said Ron Vance, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Resource Conservation Branch. “I wonder if this will reconcentrate the innovation back down to the processing of the primary materials.”

Amid the broader discussion about how to change recycling economics, one audience member asked about a national landfill tax for the U.S. The group was doubtful that would ever happen in the current state-driven regulatory structure. “Congress has trouble agreeing that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. I would have a lot of difficulty thinking that we would to be able to get a world where 60 senators and the majority of the House of Representatives would vote to approve a federal landfill tax,” said David Biderman, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America.

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