Don't collection systems also impact quality?
I agree the timing is right to start discussing minimum content again. Wouldn't that be part of an EPR program?
Amy PerlmutterPerlmutter Associates
23 Avon Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Strategic planning, partnership building, communications, and program design for a sustainable future
Begin forwarded message:
Date: Fri, Nov 14 2008 3:16 pm
From: "Eric Lombardi"
Single stream is not the big bad monster here folks. As Biddle said in his last email, there are different qualities of single stream out there. The key is the technology and how many tons an hour you run through it.
In the early history of SS, the markets did not enforce or reward quality, thus the MRF's didn't get the pricing feedback that said "clean it up stupid"... instead, the world has been buying everything at an increasing price!!! Because the collection cost savings are real (and this is the most expensive part of the ZW system), and because less trucking equals less GHG, the technology for automated sorting of mixed recyclables just keeps on getting better. And that is good, because hand sorting recyclables is not a great job. So, we're at the point now that if you run the SS technology really sloooowwwwllllyyyyy, then you can get a really good quality sorting job done and the mills will love the quality of the stuff. But if you run the system too slowly, then your throughput rate is too low, and you won't make any money. Thus, the conflict over who is going to make any money ... the MRF's or the Mills? Because I've been told by a big name expert on paper mills (Bill Moore) that the new cleaning screens on the new mills in Asia are much much better than ours here domestically and they CAN clean up the dirtier SS fibers they are getting. Proof of that is the increasing price and demand for fiber over the last five years while quality declined!!
I am not advocating dirtier recyclables, but I am saying that single stream collections is a key piece of transforming our world into a 3-Bin Discard Collection World, thus putting a stake through the heart of the 1-Bin Trash World... and if we win this single battle of creating a "source separated world", then we will also have killed the economics of landfilling and burning.
The real issue before us now is to understand why China was able to bring us all to our knees like this? One reason is because we have let our domestic recycling industry die, and the only way we will fix that is to create bigger markets here at home for recovered resources. The way to do that is called "national minimum content standards" for everything manufactured or imported into the US. The NRC discussed this in 1994, but when the markets exploded in 1995 and suddenly the recycling business was profitable... well ... we all just went to work. But NOW is the time to bring this issue back... even if Chindia (China and India) are going to keep buying everything we throw away, we should still be looking local and using our discards ourselves.
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