Recycling Update Autumn 1989

Recycling Update Autumn 1989

The paper market is slumping again, which means we will be getting less for the paper we collect at the garage and around Nether Edge. Fortunately the decrease in price is not as great as it was a few years ago when it became almost impossible to give away the newspaper and magazines we collect  The price we are being offered has gone down from £15 to £12 a tonne.

Despite Recycling City and the promotion all kinds of recycling has had in Sheffield recently, the paper market is international, and it fluctuates. The present dip has been caused by mandatory recycling in Canada and the USA. Because the use of recycled paper products has not been properly developed in
North America, a surplus has been generated.

This is being shipped from North America to Europe, and, while it is not being imported into Britain, it has undercut the British export market and led to a glut of supplies for British paper mills. Also, the volume of paper collected by voluntary groups in Britain has increased as environmental consciousness has been raised, particularly in the last year.

Other recycling markets; such as for higher grades of waste paper (office and computer paper), glass and aluminium cans, remain buoyant, whereas there has been a very poor market for recycled textiles (rags etc.) for some time.

It is shameful that it is not at present "economic" to recycle materials, but we live in a "market economy" where supply exceeds demand. We can campaign, persuade others, and act ourselves to make sure more and more people and organisations use recycled paper products wherever possible so that "demand" increases.We can also point out that the market equation does not take into account the cost of landfill, when perfectly recyclable materials are dumped into holes in the ground. This will become increasingly expensive as suitable sites run out. Obviously someone has to pay for this.

Lots of people want to recycle because it is a simple and effective way of helping to save resources and reducing our impact on the environment. In a perfect world everything possible would be recycled. The problems of the waste paper market remind us that tackling environmental problems in a complex industrial society is not always straightforward.


In May at a General Meeting we asked for people interested in setting up an aluminium can recycling scheme. Then nothing happened. This was because there was no-one willing or able to co-ordinate the collections.

Hopefully we will be able to get this going in the Autumn, and we will be asking members if they can organise collections in their streets involving their friends and neighbours. If you are interested, please say so at a meeting, or contact the office.

Rev Bennett.