Note: Today's episode originally aired in 2015.
One day it's profitable to recycle a bottle. The next day, some number in the global economy changes and that bottle suddenly becomes trash. A drop in oil prices, for example, can make it way harder to recycle plastic.
The line between trash and recycling has moved around a lot over the last few years. When we first aired today's episode back in 2015, U.S. recycling businesses sold a lot of their paper and plastic to China. Then, in early 2018, the Chinese government essentially banned foreign recyclables. So recyclers are having to look for other buyers.
Today on the show: The small businesses and big economic shifts that determine what happens to the stuff inside your blue recycling bin.
Music: "Steamy Streets."