How Transportation Costs Are Impacting the Value of Recyclables

March 19th, 2020

It’s commonly known that recycling or reducing as much material as possible will make a remarkably positive impact both on the environment, as well as the economy. Most individuals want or try to recycle as much as possible; however, when on average an individual produces almost five pounds of waste a day it’s hard to even know where to start. What makes this even more difficult is that the recycling industry is regional. What this means is that the prices paid for various recyclables is significantly impacted by the freight cost of picking up, transporting, and delivering these recycled materials. When it comes to the value of recyclables oftentimes the price of transportation tends to be overlooked, when in actuality these prices mean everything.  

In recent months, trucking companies have continuously increased their transportation rates – but what exactly are the reasons for this rapid escalation? The primary factor for this pricing fluctuation is simply that there are not enough truck drivers on the road for the number of loads that need to be picked up. This shortage of American truck drivers is what spurred these extremely high freight costs. 

This scarcity of drivers on the road has several reasons; however, the main cause is that the average salary of truck drivers no long entices enough individuals to remain in the industry. With less drivers in the industry, companies are forced to increase their freight costs just to stay afloat. Another cause for the lack of drivers on the road is the implementation of a federal regulation which now requires all drivers to switch from paper to electronic logging systems. The ELDs (electronic logging devices) forces drivers to operate their vehicle for a certain number of hours before they are legally required to take a break, which then decreases the amount of miles and hours these drivers are authorized which drastically affects many individual’s paycheck. As a result, numerous truck drivers are opposed to this mandate and seeking various employment within another field. 

The transportation field is just like any other industry where prices are determined by one thing: supply and demand. Currently, the United States has an immensely high demand for numerous truck loads and a lack of drivers, inevitably creating an increased price for trucking rates. The American Trucking Association, or ATA, reported that the U.S. trucker shortage is expected to more than double over the next decade as the industry struggles to replace aging drivers and recruit more women.  This trend will cause the market’s inflation to continue to accelerate, which will impact recycling values.

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