James Dennin, Kapitall: Will flight 370's discovery of islands of plastic trash in our oceans lead to renewed interest in recycling stocks ?

Garbage in the ocean was never really a hot button issue. And then Malaysian Flight 370 mysteriously disappeared, putting a primetime spotlight on thousands of pieces of trash which were mistaken for plane debris. 

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Materials from oil and chemical spills, though attention-grabbing still break down over time, but consumer plastics live in our oceans for decades — perhaps centuries.  The only way it leaves the ocean is when an animal or something eats a small piece of it and dies. And that isn't exactly an ideal solution. 

Recycling technology is getting a lot more sophisticated, however. Gone are the days when recycling was only capable of producing low-quality paper and scratchy fleece-jackets. A number of big industry companies have turned to recycling as a potential way to combat water shortages and produce fuel for cars. 

Astronauts in particular have come up with a number of imaginative implementations for recycling. Which makes sense as sophisticated oxygen and water recycling are a pretty important pre-cursor to reducing carbon in the atmosphere. 

The firms that focus on recycling are involved in a number of different spaces and industries from heavy machinery to raw materials. We built a list of recycling stocks in honor of Earth Day. Will they see new life as the issue gains more prominence? 

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Click on the interactive chart to view data over time. 

1. Ameresco, Inc. ( AMRC): Provides energy efficiency solutions for facilities in North America. Market cap at $436.6M, most recent closing price at $9.57.



2. Casella Waste Systems Inc. ( CWST): Provides resource management services, primarily in the areas of solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, and recycling services to the residential, commercial, municipal, and industrial customers in the United States. Market cap at $217.82M, most recent closing price at $5.47.



3. Darling International Inc. ( DAR): Provides rendering, recycling, and recovery solutions to the food industry worldwide. Market cap at $2.38B, most recent closing price at $20.15.



4. Kadant Inc. ( KAI): Develops, manufactures, and markets equipment and products for the papermaking and paper recycling industries. Market cap at $436.19M, most recent closing price at $39.11.



5. Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. ( SCHN): Engages in recycling ferrous and nonferrous scrap metals, and used and salvaged vehicles; and manufacturing finished steel products. Market cap at $681.18M, most recent closing price at $25.46.


(List compiled by James Dennin, a Kapitall Writer. Monthly returns sourced from Zacks Investment Research, all other data sourced from Finviz.)