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[GreenYes] Single Stream

Dear Ann,

The reason your hauler hasn’t describe the cons of single stream may be because he/she doesn’t experience them. We’ve found that the community often finds out about the cons after they have made the change and it is very difficult to reverse this decision. Here are some things we learned as we tried to decide if we were going to try out single stream.


We just completed a fourteen month study of different collection methods and their impact on the cost, convenience and environmental impact. I think my partner already sent you the information about the study but if not you can find it on our website below. We also have a slide presentation that is very informative.


From the collectors perspective there are definite gains from single stream. They can use the same vehicles that they use for trash and they can compact the heck out of the stuff getting more material in a load. This can be cost efficient when the recycling facility is far away from the community.


Of course the material is then so compacted that a large percentage of it is useless or landfill cover at best.  Our residents where surveyed about several issues including this one and 98% concluded that landfill cover is not an acceptable use of their recycling efforts. Talk about the fleecing of America!


In our study the residents did not respond with more participation or material in two stream versus single stream. So although the single most widely heard assumption behind single stream, i.e., that folks think it is simpler and use it more, was an incorrect assumption.


In fact the same amount of folks participated in two or single stream with surprisingly more material set out in the two stream weekly than single stream. At the end of the day more material had to be discarded in the single stream program too so the net recovery was the worst.


The cost as proposed by the hauler also resulted in the single stream collection being the most expensive option per ton.


The final results were that single stream did not increase convenience since residents like two stream as much or more. Single stream did not improve environmental outcome since on average 18% was discarded ( up to 25%) and finally it did not improve costs since it was the most expensive program cost per ton recycled.


Hope this helps,




Susan Hubbard
Eureka Recycling
624 Selby Ave.
Saint Paul, MN  55104
651/222-7678 ext 116
Fax: 651/221-9831




Visit our NEW WEBSITE!


Eureka Recycling, a nonprofit organization created by the
Saint Paul Neighborhood Energy Consortium, specializes
in recycling and waste reduction services, programs, education
and advocacy. Our mission is to reduce waste today through
innovative resource management and to reach a waste-free
tomorrow by demonstrating that waste is preventable not inevitable.



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