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Recycling Markets

Have you ever heard this before? “Well, we’d like to recycle that material but there are no markets.” There’s a good chance that this phrase just isn’t true any more. The fact is that the Southeast is a hotbed of strong recycling markets. For example, did you know that Georgia is the largest user and manufacturer of recycled PET (beverage bottles) in the country? And that the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers is looking for ways to help local governments increase participation in recycling programs because their members need more post-consumer plastic bottles?

For example, if you’re looking for paper markets, the Southeast has some of the strongest recycled paper markets in the country. The American Forest and Paper Association would tell you that their members rely on recycled paper and are in need of more high-quality material.

So, if there are such great markets in the Southeast, how do you find these markets for your materials? To learn more about the most commonly recycled commodities, visit EPA's Commodities page. For local information, contact your state solid waste and recycling office about regional recycling markets and material exchanges. The Southern Waste Information eXchang (SWIX) is also a helpful tool.

Even though there are great markets in the Southeast, our work is never done. There are several organizations working to develop markets and assist recycling businesses in the Southeast. South Carolina and North Carolina have state offices dedicated to assisting recycling businesses within the state. The Small Business Development Program is available to help aid any of the region’s recycling operations.

Waste exchanges also can be a great resource for local governments or businesses looking to recycle less traditional commodities. Click here for a listing of several waste exchange Websites.

Rural recycling can have added challenges. One could argue that the goal for operating a cost-effective recycling program is operating at the lowest cost per ton of material handled, right? That’s often a difficult task for rural communities handling small amounts of materials. The Recycling Marketing Cooperative for Tennessee identified this issue as a challenge for many  Tennessee towns and now works to partner communities with similar collection programs for easier movement of recyclable materials. It’s a model that can be adopted by other regions.

EPA Resources:
State / Regional Resources:
Other Trade Associations:
Recycling Coalitions:

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