Global Commodity Market Update | Waste Recycling News

The impact of the global commodity market

Are you aware of your waste’s full potential? With a strong focus on environmental stability, global responsibility, sustainability and renewables, the days when it was acceptable to send waste to landfill are thankfully long gone.

This article focuses on the impact of the global commodity market and how this has an effect on businesses who rely upon and/or operate within the waste and recycling industry.

What is the global commodity market?

The global commodity market works just like any other market. It’s a physical or a virtual space, where you can buy, sell or trade various commodities at the current or a future date.


What are recyclable commodities?

To put it simply, the recyclable commodity market refers to the most common recyclable materials that are put through treatments and processes, which turn them from waste into valuable commodities (materials) that can be sold at a profit.

What waste types can be accepted as recyclable commodities?

  • Paper and card – This waste resource can be made into new paper products such as newsprint, packaging, tissues and office items.
  • Glass – Glass can be infinitely recycled without losing any quality and so it’s often reused time and time again.
  • Plastic – Depending on which type of plastic, it’s often shredded or granulated to produce a material that can be recycled into new plastic products.
  • Metal – These can range from metal found in food and drink cans, to parts found in electrical items, which are then distributed to varying facilities to be melted and formed into new metal products.

Information on the decrease in value in commodities globally

Previously, waste managers across the world relied on China to import and process vast quantities of common recycling commodities like plastic, paper and glass. However, in early 2018, the ‘Chinese National Sword Legislation’ came into effect to ban imports of 24 types of waste material and set a tougher standard for contamination levels in the rest. At the time, it was regarded by many businesses as a ‘catastrophe’ that will have a ‘devastating impact’ on global recycling.

However, this didn’t mean that it was bad news for everyone. The pressure on Chinese waste processing acted as a catalyst for other global governments and recycling industries to explore alternative supply chains and provide opportunities for domestic waste sorting and recycling businesses around the world.

What does this mean for the waste and recycling industry?

While the ‘Chinese National Sword Legislation’ poses an immediate and continuing challenge to the global waste management and recycling industry, there is a bright future for recycling businesses.

The promise behind the changes comes from the design and implementation of breakthrough technologies, which will continue to ensure less waste is sent to landfills, reduced mining of primary resources and a decrease in environmental pollution for waste industries all over the world.

By investing more in sensor-based recycling sorting solutions, and having more knowledge of where the waste is being sent, the businesses producing waste can cut contamination and help encourage resources to be reused and recycled.

One key example of this is the new Viridor plastic recycling plant that they are building in Avonmouth. This shows how the UK is developing its recycling infrastructure rather than relying on exports. Read more here >> 

How has this change affected Commercial Recycling?

Due to the global market in commodities being very poor, in particular cardboard waste recycling, at the end of 2019, most trade waste disposal facilities, including our own, had to make the tough decision to increase the costs to tip certain recycling commodities, and no longer allow cardboard to be tipped for free. At this time, it appears the situation in the global market is unlikely to change, however, if the situation does improve our business is committed to reviewing the rate at the earliest appropriate moment.

The fall in global commodity rates makes it even more important to recycle, reuse and recover where possible.

External sources

Below we have listed some external resources which have additional information on the current recycling commodity market:

Contact Commercial Recycling for more information

If you would like more information regarding the condition of the global commodity or recycling commodity market, please give our team a call on 01202 579579.

Check out our current waste disposal prices here >>.

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