Due to the increasing difficulty of finding sustainable means of disposal, NoComo Industries, Inc. will no longer take any plastics or tin for recycling.
The board of directors voted unanimously to discontinue collecting and sorting these items last Tuesday after monitoring the recycling market for the past half year.
Nicki Samson, who is the general manager of NoCoMo, said recycling tin and plastic never made money, but it was starting to cost money.
“We don’t need to make a lot of money, but we can’t lose money,” Samson said.
According to Samson, ever since the Chinese government began more closely monitoring scrap imports in 2013 with the multi-agency effort called Operation Green Fence, it has been more difficult to handle recyclables.
Selling plastic in the last two years has been particularly difficult.
“It’s getting hard to get rid of this stuff,” Samson said. “Quite honestly, the market is saturated.”
In 2013, China stopped taking shipments of plastic grades three, six, and seven. These grades include plastic packing materials, toys, costume jewelry, baby bottles, audio cassettes, and disposable coffee lids.
“No one has the time or manpower to sort through all of it and still make money,” said Samson. “There are so many grades of plastic, and there are grades within those grades.”
For the most part, she said, businesses that process recyclable plastics are looking for grades one and two, which include water and soda bottles and milk jugs. These can be made into more profitable materials such as carpeting, clothing, buckets, crates, shampoo, and motor oil.
The problem with collecting and selling grades one and two in Maryville is that it could take months to get enough for one shipment. One truckload averages a minimum of 42,000 pounds, which is about 45 bales.
Currently, there are 26 bales of mixed plastic grades waiting to be transferred.
Samson has secured a deal with a processor to take the recycling center’s last load of plastic for one cent per pound.
Peggy Helzer, who is the controller for NoCoMo, said plastics have never made money, but at the highest selling point, they were earning approximately 33 cents per pound.
Despite the low purchasing price, Samson said getting it was still lucky. Without it, she’d be facing a $1,700 landfill fee to throw away the plastic. From the center, the plastics will ship to distributors outside the state because no businesses in Missouri process them.
Although NoCoMo is limiting the number of items they will take, Samson said the operation is still growing, and it continues to serve local businesses.
“The community has been very good with supporting us,” Samson said.
Changing what the workshop will accept does not alter the amount of worker responsibilities. However, Samson said it will be important for the community to continue recycling the items they do process.
NoCoMo is a nonprofit workshop regulated by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that provides employment for people with developmental and cognitive disabilities. Certified employees work year-round building custom wood pallets, recycling, and packaging. Samson said no one of these three branches of NoCoMo’s services is more important than the other. Throughout the year, focus on one area fluctuates, according to season.
“Everything we do here is essential to giving somebody dignified employment,” said Samson.
The recycling program will still accept aluminum and all paper products such as books, cardboard, and shredded paper.