At first blush, it would appear the timing couldn't be worse for Erie County's push for expanding curbside recycling throughout the county.
As noted in recent news stories, a glut of recyclable materials has driven the price of such materials -- and therefore the immediate benefit of collecting them -- into the basement.
Since August, prices paid for such recyclables as cardboard, stainless steel and tin have dropped by 75 percent or more, according to the Akron Beacon Journal in a story reposted on the Ohio.com Web site.
Because of that, the story continues, recyclable-materials haulers might consider charging more for the curbside pickup service or dropping it altogether.
There's one bright spot, the story notes with grim humor: The theft of aluminum siding and copper wiring and piping has declined; thieves make cost-benefit analyses too.
This state of affairs is expected to last several months, according to one expert cited in the story.
One might conclude Erie County ought to hold off on pushing curbside recycling, but we advise patience and not giving up -- both because of the apparent cyclic nature of the business and because of the many delayed, but still real, benefits of recycling.
Material is reused instead of being wasted, and landfills fill up that much more slowly -- reducing the pressure on resources we'll need now and in the future.
If recycling is allowed and encouraged to grow, and managed intelligently, it will grow enough to ride out the down cycles and consolidate gains made in the up cycles, eventually becoming a part of the economic landscape -- which we need it to be.