Monday, May 11, 2015

How Cheap are Recycled Plastics Nowadays?

"Prices for recycled plastic are so low now, it's not worth stealing anymore" according to Richard Stegner, president of Regency Recycling in Rosedale, Queens. Stegner is noticing a drop in theft that followed recent the large drop in oil and resin prices.

While the common perception of plastics is as cheap, junky material, crime statistics will tell you otherwise. I've been writing about plastic thievery around the world for the last 5 years ([1], [2], [3], [4] and [5]) so it is nothing new, but it also gives pause to those who think that plastic doesn't have much economic value. On a $/lb. basis compared to precious metals it doesn't, but that isn't always a good comparison. Stealing plastics is comparable to robbing the local liquor store, while stealing metals is comparable to robbing a bank. The former is extremely common, seldom reported in the news and doesn't net a whole lot of money, but the chances of getting caught are small. The latter is much less common, more newsworthy, but also much more difficult to pull off (successfully). People aren't going to be suspicious if you have a truckload of plastic; they will be extremely suspicious if you have a truckload of silver or gold.

As petroleum prices slowly increase, the price of everything made from it will increase too and so the crime rates for stealing those more valuable materials will once again increase. As will the stories of incompetent thieves (see links above).

Previous Years

May 11, 2012 - What a Crappy Project

May 11, 2011 - Bouncing Jello at 6,200 Frames/Second

May 11, 2010 - Flow-Induced Phase Separation

May 11, 2010 - "9 Shocking Things Made from Oil" - Not!

May 11, 2010 - 10 Things I Like about Polymer Chemistry

May 11, 2010 - Follow Up on "9 Shocking Things Made From Oil"

May 11, 2007 - A much better QC test

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