The recycling industry is suffering because of the current lower price of oil. Municipalities are paying more money to recycle their paper, plastic, glass, and metal – more than it cost to add them to a landfill. Governments at all levels are deciding whether or not to recycle the waste they collect based on these higher costs. These points were well made in an article in the NY Times, “Skid in Oil Prices Pulls the Recycling Industry Down With It.”

But what about the environment? What about the environmental and human health costs of adding these discarded consumer goods to our landfills and oceans? Doing the right thing might not be possible for some businesses or towns right now – which is unfortunate. However some larger corporations, like PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble, are buying post-consumer waste to use in the manufacture of new products. PepsiCo has pledged to integrate sustainability into it’s corporate vision, utilizing post-consumer waste in new products. Procter & Gamble had declared that by 2020 it will use 100% recycled and/or renewable materials in its packaging. This is an important environmental commitment to re-use post-consumer waste. In addition, for those municipalities that can no longer afford recycling costs directly, there are various avenues to sell post-consumer waste – either locally or even on the global scale.

Companies and governments alike need to stay focused on sustainability – without it, we will all be buried in waste someday in the future. We have to do what we can today, to save what we have for future generations.