Earth911 Podcast: ISRI Chief Economist Joe Pickard Discusses COVID’s Impact on Recycling

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The recycling industry, like the rest of the world, is coping with the massive disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. Joe Pickard, the chief economist of the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), shares his insights into how recycling will change as a new normal emerges after the pandemic. Even as homeowners and apartment-dwellers send more recyclables through curbside programs, the commercial recycling market has slowed with closures and declining manufacturing. The results are that overall recycling rates have fallen in most states, such as California and Oregon.

After closures, many recycling programs are re-opening with new employee safety programs. And recycling firms will fail. Those without the cash to get through the crisis are at the greatest risk, Pickard explains. Recyclers are wrestling with the changing requirements for the Payroll Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration, but before the pandemic investments in U.S. recycling was on the increase. Perhaps the “new normal” will be a more efficient and innovative recycling infrastructure.

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This post was originally published on May 4, 2020.

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