PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gas prices continue to fall. And while that has many Americans celebrating some industries are getting hit hard. As 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan finds, that includes the recycling business.
Many of us go out our way to recycle. It helps the environment and for years manufacturers have benefited too. But when oil prices are this low, the items you recycle may still end up in a landfill. Low oil prices have led to big savings at the gas pump. But, what’s good news for millions of drivers is bad news for recycling centers.
“All recycling is impacted by low energy costs, plastic in particular because plastic is made from oil,” said environmental consultant, Wayne Defeo.
With oil prices so low, plastic makers are finding it cheaper to make new plastic from oil instead of recyclables.
“We have to sell it for less,” said Tom Outerbridge with Sims Municipal Recycling.
Sims Municipal Recycling in New York handles 18,000 tons of recyclables a month.
Outerbridge says it’s harder to find plastic buyers especially for low grade items like plastic bags.
“Plastic bags, we will send to a landfill if we don’t have a home for them,” said Outerbridge.
Defeo says the price drop is costing recycling centers around the nation billions of dollars. But he says everyone should keep recycling.
“Environmentally it is better, in the long term economically it is better,” said Defeo.
Defeo points out that oil prices will eventually go up and when they do so will the value of recyclables.