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[greenyes] Single Stream Recycling Roundtable Discussion On Website

(If this posts more than once, I apologize - the GRRN program says I need to
re-subscribe, so I am assuming that previous messages haven't gone through.
- Susan)

Over the past three years, we at Conservatree have talked with hundreds of
people about single stream recycling programs in order to understand why
they are so attractive to some and so problematic to others. Clearly, their
popularity is rapidly changing the nature of recycling in North America. At
the same time, we can see now that single stream might perhaps be more
accurately perceived as but one response to a series of changing challenges
and opportunities.

We have been particularly concerned that, while recycling, by its very
nature, has to function as a collaborative system, with each sector needing
to work in sync with the others, many of the single stream programs (which
have many variations) have been designed without considering the
implications for the system as a whole. This is probably true of many dual-
and multi-stream programs as well, but it seems to create some particularly
challenging problems in some of the current single stream programs. In
particular, we have been struck by how many conversations that we would have
thought would be "naturals" in designing new programs and processes have, in
fact, never taken place. For single stream to fulfill the long-term
potential that many people hold for it - providing greater volumes of
recyclables while maintaining quality - the problems need to be solved.

That is why we held the Single Stream Roundtable: Closing the Loop, Taking A
Whole Systems Approach, in May 2005. More than 170 of California's leading
recyclers joined us for a day of myth-busting presentations (see in
particular the Morning Presentations), great discussions, and a
clearing-the-air kind of hope and cross-sector collaboration that had not
existed before.

The report that we now have on our website - accessible from What's New on
our home page or go directly to - is as close
as we could get to creating a "walk-through" of the day's experience. The
group that participated in the Roundtable has enthusiastically supported
creating more opportunities to continue these kinds of discussions. We hope
that others will join in on evaluating recycling as a whole system, and that
this report will serve as a catalyst for some of those discussions.

(Recommendations for best practices were one of the "next steps" that the
Roundtable participants felt are most urgently needed. We are working with
Richard Gertman of Environmental Planning Consultants on writing a Single
Stream Best Practices Manual, which we expect to make available later this
year. If you're going to the National Recycling Coalition conference in
Minneapolis that starts this weekend, Richard will be presenting some of our
findings at the single stream panel on Monday afternoon.)

Susan Kinsella

Susan Kinsella
Executive Director
San Francisco, CA
Phone - 415/721-4230
E-mail Fax - 509/756-6987
E-mail - paper@no.address
Websites -,

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