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[GreenYes] single stream recycling and the new economy

Title: [GreenYes] single stream recycling and the new economy

With the greatest respect for Eric and Helen and all our recycling friends,

Many producer responsibility advocates are recyclers so they may be busy
trying to keep their recycling programs going in this dire economy.  I know
we are so it took us a bit to respond to this dialogue. We'd appreciate all
your best thoughts for the future of recycling not just for us but for all
the recyclers like us who are struggling right now.

We have both served on NRC's board and don't know much about it now. We do
know that NRC's  board is loaded with single stream recyclers who continue
to say that single stream is less expensive and this is a good time to go
that way.   We also know that every city in Minnesota that has gone to
single stream has experienced higher rates. It is complete bogus. If it is
cheaper then there is no savings passed on.

Luckily we didn't go single stream and we can still move our materials in
this market.  We have gotten calls from other recyclers like ourselves in
our area but that they have gone to single stream and are asking for our
help as they are unable to even move the materials - let alone get paid. So
is this proof that the feedback loop from the mill is working?  No.

This is the proof that what is theoretically possible and what is actually
happening in single stream are eons apart. The largest recycler in the
country is single stream and they have sway to land contracts with mills
that include floor pricing. Their "quality" of materials sets the national
price we all get for our recyclables. They continue to move their single
stream materials. This is the real world of single stream recycling. The
feedback loop only works with the small recyclers who are trying to compete
with the giants by going to single stream - they get the feedback for poor
quality at the mills. That was fine when the demand was high but not so much
now as they are currently shut off.

We aren't experts here - we have been recycling for a couple decades and we
talk with our mills. Ironically the mills in our country are older and can't
handle the dirtier paper so how do we support local mills - how do we keep
paper and other raw materials in our country?  For now we keep it super
clean - not single stream. All of our material stays in North America. Our
residual rate at our MRF is less than 1% and that includes glass bottle
recycling into glass bottles not sand blasting medium or landfill cover. We
educate our customers - our drivers leave what isn't recycled in the bin.
They can see because it isn't in a big closed cart and our two stream
materials are handled with respect in our trucks and at our facility. Not
compacted to smithereens to "save money." Maybe this sounds arrogant but the
idea at Eureka Recycling was to demonstrate that it could be done...waste
could be prevented - environmentally sound, socially compassionate and
economically solid.

Ideally..... our community deals with discards by buying less and in bulk or
refillables. Then we purchase what is really recyclable not just swept off
the curb and discarded later. We compost their food scraps at home as much
as possible and then only what must be is actually driven off to a
commercial composting facility. We use the compost we create in their garden
or give it to our neighbor. The commercial compost goes to local farms.  We
buy products from producers that understand their responsibility for their
manufactured goods. We support restaurants and businesses that do the same.
We stop justifying short term fixes like dirty single stream and demand
change - real change and we know that our vote - I meanour individual action
actually does count.

National minimum content standards are important so are partnerships. We are
always looking for good partners.

Susan Hubbard & Tim Brownell
Eureka Recycling
2828 Kennedy ST. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413


Waste is Preventable Not Inevitable

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