Four experts contacted by The Nation say Crees would be unwise to put millions into a vast recycling project proposed by Texas businessman Walter Childress.
“It sounds like a crock,” said Leone Young, one of America’s top financial analysts specializing in waste-management.
“My companies in this industry are losing their shirts. This is the worst time for the industry since I’ve been in the business.”
Childress has asked the Crees for up to $27 million to finance his plan to build high-tech recycling centres across the United States.
But Young said recycling has hit bad times because of low paper prices. Paper makes up the bulk of what can be recycled in most garbage dumps.
Right now, recycled paper fetches such a low price it won’t even cover the cost of the recycling process, let alone yield a profit, said Young, a vice-president at the prestigious Wall Street firm Smith Barney.
Young reacted with skepticism to Childress’s claim that a secret new technology will reap big profits. ”I don’t buy it. Recycling is a very labour-intensive business. I can’t imagine a wonder machine that would do away with that.”
Chaz Miller, a senior manager at Washington, D.C.’s National Solid Waste Management Association, agreed with Young. Miller said the recycling industry is going through a difficult downswing, and recovery is not on the horizon.
Paper prices are low and businesses are generating less garbage overall, which means there’s less to recycle in the first place, said Miller. He said he’s heard many novel ideas to deal with mounting garbage problems in U.S. cities, but getting them off the ground is different story.
“The last 30 years of garbage handling and recycling have been littered with miracle cures,” he said. “To actually go out and recycle 100 tonnes is another matter. Scale-up is vicious.”
In a past issue of The Nation, two other U.S. experts voiced their skepticism about the plan and cautioned Crees to hold on to their money.