Eastman Recycling in Steinbach is adapting to the changing market for recycled goods. Darryl Marsch, Director of Services for enVision Community Living, which operates Eastman Recycling, says China is the biggest importer of recycled goods and previously did a lot of the sorting on its own. But he adds China now wants a product that has been better pre-sorted before being shipped over.

"Mostly what's happened in China is they've changed the rules in terms of the quality of the sort of the materials that they are accepting. So, it doesn't have a direct impact on us in terms of shipments, but what it has done, globally, is driven the market prices down. It's just one of the things you have to roll with. The unfortunate part is that you do an equivalent amount of work, in terms of collection and sorting, with less payback at the end. But it's just part of the business model, part of what all recyclers have to deal with."

Marsch says Eastman Recycling has been able to handle the market fluctuation so far, although he adds it's disappointing to get a lesser price for their product. He says one example of the new requirements is for paper. China used to accept a mix of all kinds of paper but now wants it sorted specifically into categories like strictly corrugated cardboard or strictly white paper or strictly newsprint. Marsch adds this is part of an overall change in the industry.

"The purchasers, in general, are more picky about the quality of the material. We do a hand sort, primarily, so our quality always has been quite high. One of the things we struggle with is non-recyclable materials that come through the stream. The cleaner the material that comes to us, the more opportunities we have for selling the finished material."

Marsch says we can all help them do a better job by making sure we place only recyclable items in our blue boxes.