Single stream (also known as "fully commingled") recycling refers to a collection system that mixes all recyclable paper fibers and containers together in a bin at the curb and in the collection truck. In single stream, both the collection and processing systems must be designed to handle this fully commingled mixture of recyclables. Proponents of single stream note these advantages: Changes to any program are a great opportunity to develop new educational materials and provide outreach to residents. Any education and promotion of a program will ensure greater success and participation.
Single stream (also known as "fully commingled") recycling refers to a collection system that mixes all recyclable paper fibers and containers together in a bin at the curb and in the collection truck. In single stream, both the collection and processing systems must be designed to handle this fully commingled mixture of recyclables.
Proponents of single stream note these advantages:
Changes to any program are a great opportunity to develop new educational materials and provide outreach to residents. Any education and promotion of a program will ensure greater success and participation.
Potential challenges of single stream recycling may include:
With few exceptions, municipalities nation-wide that have implemented single stream collection report not only dramatic increases in amounts of recyclables collected, but an improvement in participation rates. In addition, they state that single stream has resulted in less litter on collection days when covered containers are used. Many of these advantages can be attributed to other collection changes which often accompany the switch to single stream. More and more municipal solid waste managers are looking at single stream as the solution to many municipal solid waste (MSW) issues they face: rising disposal costs, a way to divert materials from solid waste stream, increase recycling participation and the means for adding more recyclables to their programs. The municipality may also benefit from the increased materials collected if they market or get rebates for their recyclables.
However, collecting material for recycling does not guarantee your materials are recycled. In some cases, recycling facilities in CT may not be ‘recycling’ glass collected from municipal recycling programs. Their sorting process may create a substandard product, or they choose to market to local landfills to be used as alternative daily cover (ADC). Connecticut does not recognize ADC as a form of recycling. It’s a beneficial use, but not recycling.
There are three types of residue commonly associated with the processing of recyclable material:
The single stream collection process may produce a higher rate of residue. Compaction of the commingled recyclables during collection or transport may break glass and mix glass and plastic with paper; etc. The recycling facility processing that material needs to assure that their processes and equipment are capable of producing high quality material that meets end user (paper mill, manufacturers, etc.) specifications.
Remember that collecting recyclables does not guarantee recycling. Recycling occurs when the material collected actually gets made into a new product.
Mixed broken glass is generally not marketable as a mix for most applications involving melting to produce new glass products, although a few new markets are emerging for this relatively low-value material. However, optical sorting equipment used by some primary recycling facilities and by glass beneficiators (secondary recycling processing facilities) in the Connecticut/Massachusetts region allow mixed broken glass to be separated by color and marketed to make new glass containers as well as to manufacture other products such as fiberglass insulation. In some cases, low value mixed glass is used as alternate daily cover (ADC) at landfills. Be aware that Connecticut does not recognize ADC as recycling. If your glass is being used as alternate daily landfill cover, you are not recycling.
The State of Connecticut and DEEP encourage municipalities to develop collection recycling systems that increase participation and which result in increased tonnages of material recycled into new products. When contracting with a recycling facility municipalities should seek information on the residue rate at that facility and information on the quality of material marketed from that facility. EPA provides some guidance on this issue as does Conservatree Paper (see page 46).
DEEP strongly encourages communities to consider implementing a unit-based pricing structure when any recycling collection program changes are made in an effort to increase recycling recovery efforts in Connecticut.
No. Neither the State of Connecticut nor the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection mandate how recycling is collected in a municipality. However, recycling is the law and everyone must recycle the State mandated items. Remember to check your local municipal ordinances which may mandate more materials to be recycled than the State mandates.
Disclaimer: The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) maintains the content on this web site to enhance public access to information and facilitate understanding of waste reduction, reuse and recycling. The DEEP is not recommending these resources over any others and recognizes these represent only a partial listing of resources on this subject.
Content Last Updated June 30, 2010