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

This is a serious concern with publicly-owned disposal facilities, as we have here. When the tipping fee is way higher than the actual cost (here it's $68 versus $20) there is a powerful incentive to maintain good flows across the landfill scale.

And make no mistake about the link between single-stream and WTE: the incentive is all the more powerful if you can claim to be making "energy from waste."


At 05:34 PM 11/20/2008, Alan Muller wrote:

Our old friends the Delaware Solid Waste Authority have converted to
single stream--effectively converting the state to single stream.  I
haven't looked into it enough to be able to prove it, but have a
strong feeling that a big motivation for them is to be able to divert
to their dumps.
That is, with already-separated stuff, they don't
have much excuse for dumping it, and are in danger of people calling
them out on it.  Whereas, with a single commingled stream and them
controlling the separation processes, who is going to watch them
carefully enough.....?   One might say, are they going to charge
themselves the tipping fee.....?  No, but they reported a couple of
years ago that their real internal cost of dumping was on the order
of $12/ton.  At the least, they don't have much motivation to find
and keep markets.


At 02:38 PM 11/20/2008 -0600, Susan Hubbard wrote:

>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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