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[GreenYes] single stream

Sorry if this is the second time you recieve this, but Susan wanted to make sure you recieved it and her contact information. Check out her organization's website for the full report!  - Chrsitine McCoy


 Dave, Christine, Jeremy and others,


My organization just completed a 14 month study of collection methods – including single stream. We worked with our subcontractor WMI on this study. We also spoke to many owners/operators of single stream programs and not surprisingly found they were enthusiastic about their facilities. We talked to folks in the paper industry and found that they were less than enthusiastic about some of the paper coming out of single stream facilities. The recent paper conference in New Orleans confirms that the paper industry is very concerned about the impacts of single stream.


We found many interesting things in our analysis.

We found that single stream means many different things – For example, the best single stream programs are usually two streams – paper and metals and plastics in one stream and glass in another. Which begs the question…how many streams can be single stream?


We found that recycled glass meant many different things to different programs. For example, we heard that covering a landfill with glass was different than putting it in the landfill. We found that our residents felt okay about some different aspects of glass recovery but recognized true glass recycling and didn’t think that glass as a landfill cover was recycling at all.


We found that residents participated more in the two stream (containers & fiber) method when given carts or when given bins and picked up weekly. They liked it (participated) even better than single stream. As long assumed and proclaimed - sorting materials was not the defining factor in participation. Storage capacity played a much larger role.


We found that less material was thrown out at the end of the day as separation at the source increased and that folks preferred to separate more rather than see what they put out at the curb put in or on a landfill. (Or burnt.)


Most importantly we found out that single stream saves the collector money but doesn’t translate into cost savings for the consumer and that those who reap the most cost savings like single stream the best.


The key finding that we would pass on for other communities was not that single stream is good or bad. It was this - better to fully analyzing recycling programs that had been on auto-drive for years - than to simply jump to the next technology. While there is a 50/50 chance this trend setting/following will work for a community – it is likely to be a better use of funds to fully analyze the potential benefits (and not necessarily just to the collector – but benefits to the community and their environment) than to take the toss of the coin.



Susan Hubbard

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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