Recent restrictions imposed by the Chinese Government on imports of recyclable materials - known as China National Sword - have dramatically affected recycling in Massachusetts and beyond. Tighter end-market specifications for recovered paper and plastics have led to higher processing costs and lower revenues, particularly for paper.
Like any other commodity, recyclables have always been subject to market fluctuations. But when viewed as a long-term waste management strategy, recycling has helped cities and towns reduce their disposal costs, boosted our state's economy, and improved the environment around us.
At the same time, cities and towns across Massachusetts are feeling the impacts of both China National Sword and regional market disruptions - such as the recent closure of a large recycled-content glass bottle manufacturing plant in Milford.
MassDEP recognizes that market conditions have real local consequences, and to the degree that the agency can help municipalities mitigate these impacts, it is doing what it can. Working together, our state and local governments can weather the current storm and maintain the recycling infrastructure that they have, for many years, worked so hard to build.