South Dakota Waste Industry Trends: How has Covid Impacted the Recycling industry?

Community Recycling News

We’ve been noticing a few trends in the recycling industry due to the Covid19 crisis that have impacted us locally and had the chance to share our findings at September’s South Dakota Solid Waste Management Association’s Annual Conference.

Industry Trends and Challenges:

  • Domestic demand for recyclable materials, while not strong, has increased.
  • Covid19 hit the industry hard with labor shortages, processing plant capacity reductions, and freight challenges.
  • Investments in technology has helped to buffer the impact, but freight challenges are expected to continue into 2021.
  • Nationally, more than 100 municipalities have scaled back or suspended programs due to the crisis. While many have restarted, others remain in limbo.
  • Millennium has not suspended any programs or changed accepted items, and has no plans to do so at this time.

Material Trends:

  • Decrease in Commercial volumes.
  • Increase in Residential volumes.
  • Significant increase in containers (UBCs, PET).

Although it has brought challenges, one positive result of Covid has been forcing the message to the forefront that recycling is an essential part to our nation’s manufacturing process and is a necessary service.

Once seen as a redemption or rebate based business, recycling has become more and more a service, driven by local community demand, the need to keep landfill costs and space down, and the need to keep material production affordable and sustainable across all other industries.