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Editor’s analysis: Are bale prices foreshadowing recession?

An editorial analysis examines whether recyclables prices may foretell a broader recession in the U.S. economy. | adison pangchai/Shutterstock

Forget peering into crystal balls or reading tea leaves. Maybe we should consult the mystical recyclables price chart.

Some individuals with decades of recycling market experience have been telling me that recyclables prices offer clues about the trajectory of the economy.

Why is that? Recovered commodities are used in construction products (HDPE in piping), to make other goods (PET in carpet) or to package products (old corrugated boxes in new boxes). These are products that generally get used more when times are good.

“If prices for those go down, it certainly implies some negative things for the economy,” said Chaz Miller, who conducts recycling markets analyses following a career in the U.S. EPA and multiple waste and recycling industry groups.

Recyclables may be trying to tell us…

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