As we have updated in previous months, serious changes in recycling end markets in recent months have led to a significant decline in global recycling commodity prices. In many cases, customers materials values have been $0 or in some cases a negative value per metric tonne. Recycling commodities like other globally traded commodities do fluctuate. Current declines in value for Cardboard and Mixed Paper in particular would be described as significantly lower than historical averages.
Industry information from the end markets in Asia continue to change and uncertainty with respect to quality requirements and demand are unclear. Urban Impact is working diligently to remain in active contact with our end market buyers to ensure we are clear on all new material quality requirements and specifications. We are communicating actively with our customers and employees to ensure that we are creating a valued resource for end markets.
As we have updated in late 2017, the Chinese government was spearheading stringent new quality standards, inspections of inbound recycling materials, elimination the import of 24 grades of recycling commodities under the banner of National Sword. We have heard recent updates that the this effort has now been transitioned to a new campaign called Blue Sky 2018. We understand that the reference is the desired environmental outcome that Chinese officials are working towards – a landscape where you can see the sky. I certainly recall many media reports that the smog levels did not allow you to see the sky in many cities.
End markets are vital for both residential and commercial recycling programs - without an end market, recycling materials will have to be landfilled, which everyone wants to avoid.
It is also an important reminder that a blended end market (both North American and Export mills) are an important ingredient to a robust recycling and zero waste economy.