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Recycling Markets Stabilize after Chinese Disruption,

Keeping up on the multiple pieces and evolving details behind China's import policies is difficult. So far the EPA has not been a primary source of that information, and is looking to industry associations for help both gathering and disseminating it. Now that the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Commerce have raised the issue in trade talks with Beijing, and submitted questions to China's Ministry of Environmental Proection, all most can do is make the best of the current situation. 

Pacific Northwest states such as Oregon and Washington have been receiving the most attention for how this is affecting their local programs, but multiple others are also seeing effects of the export restrictions. Zoe Heller, CalRecycle's assistant director for policy development, said that warehouse storage space for material had become a bigger factor in her state as markets tightened in recent weeks. Heller estimated that about 62% of the material diverted for recycling in California is currently exported to China, and the majoirty of that is paper. As a result, Heller recognized that California may need to explore new ways to achieve its future recycling targets if traditional options become less viable. 

Speakers at the event emphasized the need to keep this in perspective. While it is true that China appears serious about this policy as part of the increasingly powerful President Xi Jinping's environmental agenda, the U.S. can also adapt. As noted by Biderman, even though market prices for many commodities are down, the lost revenues are often being compared to recent record highs, rather than historic averages. New markets in Southeast Asia are also growing. Transitioning to some hybrid of a system that is less reliant on China will be disruptive at least in the short term, but it may also be the new normal. 

@CarpetCycleDec 11

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