Recycling Update

Monday, March 26, 2018

I suspect that a free market would see more of these jobs in the U.S., and far fewer in the wasteful recycling industry. (Image via Pixabay.)
The story of China's scrap ban, which I wrote about at the end of last year, has taken quite an interesting turn. Recall that China, which had been purchasing sorted trash from recycling programs worldwide for some time, decided to start turning down shipments that didn't meet new quality standards.

Now, on the heels of the President starting a trade war with China, American officials are asking them to start accepting our trash again:
The U.S. Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries said at the time that the ban would devastate an industry that supported 155,000 jobs and had exported scrap worth $5.6 billion to China in 2016.

The United States raised concerns about the ban, and a subsequent revision of standards for a variety of scrap metals, at the WTO's Council for Trade in Goods on Friday.

"China's import restrictions on recycled commodities have caused a fundamental disruption in global supply chains for scrap materials, directing them away from productive reuse and toward disposal," a U.S. representative told the meeting, according to a trade official in Geneva.
Regarding the jobs, see Frederic Bastiat, but remember that if you recycle, this is at least the second time this pernicious idea has cost you.

Given Trump's lack of principles and his fixation on what Bastiat would call "the seen", it is hard to imagine him calling off our supplications to China. His tariffs already show him willing to effectively tax Americans so we can create more jobs that comparative advantage indicates should be off shore. Indeed, I fear the better element of his package-deal of a "trade war" -- concerns over China violating the intellectual property rights of Americans -- will be put up for grabs so we can keep wasting our time and money over here recycling without having to think much about it.

To close on a positive note, I was glad to see someone confirm what I have long suspected. In addition to landfill space not being in short supply (as noted in my article, and not that the contrary would mean we should force people to recycle), these can eventually represent economically viable sources of raw materials.

-- CAV

No comments: