The New York Times reports today that the recycling market for materials like paper and cardboard has started to collapse. Recycling used to be profitable, but as municipalities and local recycling companies get reimbursed less for such materials, they have started to edge away from accepting them. And this dirty secret emerges: even the companies and cities that accept paper and cardboard nominally may not be actually recycling them in practice. Instead, paper and cardboard are being hoarded by the ton in hope of a resurgence in their price… and reporters Matt Richtel and Kate Galbraith hint that some of it is starting to be diverted to landfills.
Confronted with this shift, what’s a person to do? The Times doesn’t have any suggestions, but I’ve got one: if you’ve got the space, compost it. Grist indicates that the contamination in modern soy-based inks is pretty low in paper that isn’t shiny or glossy, so that composting newsprint and cardboard (but not magazines) should be pretty fine, especially in urban and suburban areas where (face it) you’ve got heavy metals in your soil already. Compost This concurs. Set up a second composting bin for paper products and use the results for flower beds rather than vegetable gardens if you’re especially concerned. Shred the paper to accelerate composting time.
On its way to the compost, you can make seed-starting pots from newspaper too.