As the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to impact our everyday lives, it’s particularly wreaking havoc on industries affiliated with retail, hospitality, travel, and entertainment (to name a few). While it’s easy to think about the direct providers in these industries (i.e. restaurants, bars, hotels, movie theaters, clothing stores, etc.), let’s not forget about the businesses that support these providers. Specifically, let’s discuss Food & Beverage manufacturers and distributors.
Many Food & Beverage manufacturers are classified as an “essential service”. This means that they receive certain protections from the government because they are deemed to provide a service or good that is critical to the well being of the population. Many of these businesses are experiencing high levels of production to keep up with the demand as consumers continue to stock up on groceries and food items.
However, a large segment of the Food & Beverage industry provides services to bars, restaurants, schools, and hotels to name a few. These businesses have experienced an abrupt halt as local governments have enacted mandates to temporarily close these businesses and restrict the number of people that can congregate. How these businesses survive and the negative impact of the novel coronavirus on their operations will be seen in the coming weeks and months as this pandemic continues to play out.
Whether a Food & Beverage manufacturer or distributor is experiencing record sales or is navigating a virtual standstill, smart and strategic decisions as well as reducing costs are paramount as the effects of the novel coronavirus are still unknown. In particular, many options today exist for less expensive alternatives to landfill for excess inventory, expired goods, and food byproducts from the manufacturing process. Having smart waste solutions in place and working with a strong waste and recycling partner can significantly help businesses during this scary and uncertain time.
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.
We all try to our best to do our due diligence when it comes to the environment, especially in this current climate. We take shorter showers, turn the faucet off when we’re brushing our teeth, incorporate reusable water bottles and bags, and separate our trash from our recyclables. But do we really know where our garbage is going?
For decades, the United States had been exporting massive amounts of waste into China rather than create innovative initiatives to recycle “difficult” commodities within our own country. What does it mean to have a hard to recycle item? Simply put, this means that certain items cannot easily be sorted and/or broken down, making recycling nearly impossible due to the costs involved. The most difficult are various plastics, which happened to be the main commodity the U.S. was sending to China. In fact, a large percentage of the world’s plastic trash has been sent to China since the early 1990’s. However, in 2017 China passed the strictest regulation on waste trades to date, the National Sword policy. China had been the world’s largest importer of waste for decades prior to this policy, therefore creating significant shock to where this waste would now go.
The National Sword Policy began in January 2018 and essentially collapsed various recycling programs throughout the United States. China’s program not only imposes strict quality and contamination standards on recyclables, but also has banned certain materials altogether, setting an extraordinarily challenging standard for what they are willing to take. If China has suddenly rejected most commodities from the U.S., then where will our recycling go? A year and a half since the policy was launched across the U.S. and this question seems to have been generally unanswered. Municipalities scrambled to find new markets for their recycling needs, materials began piling up at facilities and several recycling programs had to close down. The quick fix answer for this overflowing issue seems to come down to only two options; either pay an extremely increased amount to recycle or send these items to landfill. Most are opting for landfill.
This decline of recycling, unfortunately, comes at a time when the U.S. is producing more waste than ever before. As a result, this is why recycling prices have plummeted and more materials are deemed as “non-recyclable”. Hopefully, as a result, more Americans will start to think about their buying habits and consider the trash they will create before throwing something away.