Economic Crunch Puts Toronto's Blue Boxes in Red

The current economic downturn has meant a drop in commodity prices, including for recycled materials. Now Toronto is facing the prospect of warehousing their collected recycleables until the market improves.
December 5, 2008, 12pm PST | Michael Dudley
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"Toronto could end up stockpiling tonnes of unwanted plastic, paper or glass collected in the city's blue bins, waste officials warn, if the economic crisis forces recycling plants that buy the material to close.

Geoff Rathbone, the city's general manager of solid waste, said his department is drawing up contingency plans as a lack of demand for the products made from recyclables and the stunning drop in oil, pulp and metals prices puts some of the recycling plants the city deals with 'under significant stress.'

Sinking prices will likely also eat into the annual $28-million the city makes from selling recyclables and scrap metal: Its price for once-lucrative aluminum cans is down nearly 50 per cent from September to $1,100 a tonne.

But Mr. Rathbone said the real concern is that if the crisis continues for much longer, plants could shut down and leave Toronto with a growing inventory of recyclables that it is forced to rent expensive warehouse space to store."

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Published on Friday, November 28, 2008 in The Globe and Mail
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