A sudden collapse in worldwide demand for re- cyclables, particularly from China, has scrap dealers from Sacramento to San Diego stockpiling curbside collections as never before and charging walk-in customers for their throwaways.
Stacks of baled paper, plastic and metal are mounting at the Sacramento Recycling & Transfer Station plant on Fruitridge Road because market prices are too low to turn a profit or, worse, no buyers can be found, its operators said.
Five miles to the west, Ming's Recycling Corp. recently posted a sign at its entrance on 47th Avenue: "Ask for prices before you unload."
"We got fed up reloading everybody's pickup," said Kevin Luong, the company's marketing director, now in his seventh consecutive week of meager sales. "People are so shocked by the low prices. They think they are being ripped off here, but that's not the case. It's not us. It's the market."
If the scrap market doesn't recover anytime soon, homeowners could see their garbage rates rise. Most recyclers pay for the materials cities and counties collect from residents' blue curbside bins and then sell it for a profit. The proceeds help offset the government's costs of collection.
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