The Chicago Board of Trade's Recyclables Exchange is a little ripple in the ocean of plastics recycling but thinks it is the wave of the future.
Much has changed since CBOT's Recyclables Exchange became available in 1995. For the last year, the board has used a new Internet system with positive results.
``Users and potential users didn't like the bulletin board,'' said Ann Berg, senior product manager. ``It was hard to navigate and cumbersome.''
So, the exchange was remodeled, using the Internet and changing the pricing structure to a pay-as-you-go method. The exchange is at http://cbot-recy cle.com.
Instead of a $1,000 fee for unlimited use, a registered user with a listing pays a one-time fee of $10. A buyer then enters a description of the desired recycled plastic at no charge. Sellers are charged $2 per sell listing per month and contact names are not given unless a match is made.
CBOT automatically notifies buyers of a match as soon as it is posted and e-mails a description and contact name. Buyers are charged 50 cents for every e-mail received. It is then the buyer's responsibility to contact the seller. All trading is cash-only.
``People have accepted the new format better than the old,'' Berg added. ``It's an uphill climb to change the way people traditionally do business — to look at the computer every day. It takes time to get more comfortable with the process.''
CBOT lists two main plastic materials: high density polyethylene and PET, with quality descriptions, quantity and other technical data. Any other material, such as vinyl, is listed in a miscellaneous section with limited descriptions.
In a recent check, there were 240 registered users for all recyclables and 23 buyers and two sellers listed under HDPE and PET. Plastics included baled, flaked and repelletized materials.
Berg guessed that at most 35 percent to 40 percent of the systems listings were for plastic.
CBOT's long-term goal is to make a profit. In addition, CBOT would like to integrate the Recycling Exchange into its futures exchange.
``We're helping organize a sophisticated and mature recycled materials industry,'' Berg added. ``To develop futures contracts, we need more standards of quality and that will take at least five years.
``Users and listings are slow but there has been steady progress,'' he said. ``In spite of the market, it's steady and that's encouraging.''