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Re: [greenyes] Single Stream

From a municipal government perspective, anything we can do to lower the cost of the program without impacting its effectiveness is important.  Madison is just about to put our an RFP for MRF services that asks potential vendors to submit proposals for processing materials form both our current dual stream collection and from a single stream.

Two years ago, I never thought I'd be putting out and RFP that allowed a single stream option.  However, after touring the Resource Management MRF in suburban Chicago I came away convinced that single stream can be done correctly.  Their residual rates are similar to our current MRF 5-7%.  I don't know what their downstream rate is, but they apparently have no problem marketing material and are able to pay $6-10 per ton FOB their dock for unsorted single stream material.

I think a key to making the decision on single stream is good inspections of the facilities and their records on recovery and residue.  Should Resource Management win our contract, they will be subject to a very rigorous inspection before we award a contract.

We see single stream offering the following savings:

A single truck type for both refuse and recycling collection.  This will reduce the size of our fleet slightly since we won't need as many spares.  The recycling trucks will be painted bright green as they are now and the trash trucks brown.  when we use a trash truck on recycling it will be outfitted with a large banner to let folks know it is working as a recycler that day.

The potential for mechanical collection.  Currently, recycling is very hard to collect mechanically.  Having only one cart would allow us to move in this direction in 5-7 years.  We are going to go in this direction for refuse to improve efficiency and cut injuries the same savings will hold true for recycling.

Most new collection vehicles are being designed with mechanical collection and have higher loading heights than older trucks.  These higher loading heights contribute to more injuries.

I'm not convinced that a single stream system will lead to more material being set out.  Since we plan to add materials under our new contract, we won't be able to test this idea.

Regarding glass.....  I have no intention of dropping it from my program, even though we currently handle almost 1,000 tons of mixed broken glass a year.  Mixed broken costs us over $70,000 per year in tipping fees and hauling charges.   Overall, glass costs us $292,000 in tipping fees and hauling in 2002 after deducting the scant revenue it generates.  (My avoided landfill fees were just over $100,000 so my net cost was $192,000 last year.)

I think we know that the best way to collect glass is to have it source separated and for most of us that would mean drop off/depot collection.  In our case, I know the cost of managing drop off sites for glass and getting that material picked up and hauled would be about the same as my curbside costs, so its not on my plate.

We cannot afford to ignore the complaints of newspaper mills when it comes to quality.  However, I struggle with some mills' attitude.  For example, remember the great days of $200 per ton paper in 1995?  The mills took anything that looked like newspaper.  Only when the price fell back down to $10 did they start to reject loads.  Quality matters, but only when it suits them.

I think that mills, SP not withstanding, are willing to work with single stream programs and find a way to make the system work.  We may have to accept lower revenue as a result and that has to be factored into our decision to shift to single stream.

Bottom line, its not the system but the operator.

There is my oh 35 or 40 cents worth.



George P. Dreckmann
Recycling Coordinator
City of Madison, WI

608-267-2626  FAX  608-267-1120

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.
  None but ourselves can free our minds."
                                                   Bob Marley


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