'Beige gold': Criminals are making a fortune by illegally recycling cardboard, and it's making a huge dent in the pockets of cities and local authorities
- Cardboard recycling, whether legal or illegal, can yield substantial profits.
- The issue is global as New York and California have reported the issue, along with countries like
- Since cardboard is hard to trace, it can be easy to sell illegally.
Thieves are thinking "outside-the-box" when it comes to new ways to make money.
Cardboard recycling, which can happen legally or illegally, can yield substantial profits. In fact, the global value of legitimately traded cardboard is expected to reach $5.4 billion in 2024, up from $4.3 billion in 2017.
Recycled cardboard is worth its weight in "beige gold," with a ton of it going for roughly $108. When cardboard is illegally sold, "legitimate recycling firms, and the city and other local authorities who take a cut from their sales, are missing out on tens of millions," according to the BBC.
The issue has become so rampant in countries like Spain that task forces have been formed to bust these cardboard recycling rings. In 2018, 42 men were accused of taking part in 11 of 18 illegal recycling routes in Madrid, stealing and shipping 67,000 tons of waste totaling $11.8 million. It has been estimated that the city of Madrid lost $18.9 million.
This isn't just an issue in Europe, as New York and California have reported their own illegal recycling rings in the past.
"The problem is that recycled cardboard is so untraceable," Mark Hall from recycling firm BusinessWaste.co.uk told the BBC. "It is not as if it has a tracker on it."
"When cardboard is recycled legally, businesses have to pay firms like Hall's to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly.
The rise of online shopping, along with the increased use of recycled cardboard, has contributed to the rise in value for the industry. Global
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