Several broad economic indicators are pointing to headwinds for recyclers.
“New data underscore that changing market demands are rippling through the economy and could impact recyclers,” said Joe Pickard, ISRI’s chief economist.
For example, the Census Bureau recently reported that new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods declined 4.5% month-on-month in January to $272.3 billion. Durable goods are defined as “tangible products that can be stored or inventoried and that have an average life of at least three years.” They include motor vehicles, aircraft, machinery, computers and electronic products that are closely connected to recycled material demand and generation.
In addition, housing data for January were mixed, with new house sales increasing 7.2% and existing house sales dipping 0.7%. But both are down double digits compared to a year ago.
The housing sector is important to recyclers because sales increase demand for recycled materials through higher demand for appliances, building materials, industrial and consumer packaging, as well as increasing curbside collection. The construction industry continues to face many pressures, including inflation, interest rate hikes, mortgage rates that are twice the level of a year ago and weakened consumer confidence.
Recent data released for 2022 show that U.S. recycled plastic export commodities suffered double digit loses for the year compared to 2021, with PVC dropping the most, down 29.8%.
Read more analysis from the ISRI economics team in their latest market report here.