China tariffs are on the rise in retaliation for increasing tariffs by the United States. This quarrel between nations has impacted prices on thousands of products in the country, some of which can be seen here in the Magic City.
Pacific Recycling has locations in Billings and Lockwood where they can recycle iron, aluminum, copper, brass, stainless steel, and more. Jason Heath is the branch manager for Pacific Recycling in Billings and said they will pay for these kinds of metals. Cardboard and paper, however, is a charge.
"Cardboard and paper now, we're charging for," Heath said. "Essentially, because there's an over supply of it in the market and honestly, we can't get rid of everything we want to get rid of or sell. We're actually shipping alot of the product at zero value just so we can clear some space in yard."
Heath said the recycling on cardboard and paper does not make up the majority of the business.
"Everything to do with a car, we also recycle," Heath said. "The battery, the catalytic converter, the aluminum wheels that are off of it. Really, if anybody were to look around their house or their business, there's an overwhelming amount of things that you can recycle."
At Pacific Recycling, cardboard and paper is about 1% of their business by weight. At Earth First Aid, cardboard and paper is about 60 percent. Scott Berens is the owner of Earth First Aid and said his business runs solely on donations. He said with China and the U.S. in stalled tariff negotiations, the U.S. does not have the infrastructure in place to take on all the inventory that's not going to China.
"China was the largest consumer of recyclables in the world from the United States and once they stopped buying, it backed up domestic mills, flooded the markets, crashed the prices, and now we cannot move cardboard.," Berens said.
Berens said they are losing thousands of dollars each month his business depends on.
"On top of that, we're losing money with between collecting and processing and storage," Berens said. "We're at a net loss on the deal."
Berens said all he can do is wait for the U.S. and China to see eye-to-eye on the issue of tariffs.
"The trick right now, for us, is to survive," Berens said. "We hope things turn around. We just want to be here long enough to see it turn around. We're going to do our best in the meantime. We aren't charging for cardboard yet, that could change here in the near future. We'll just have to see how things go."