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Best Practices in Single Stream Recycling Susan Kinsella & Richard Gertman Conservatree Environmental Planning Consultants CRRA Conference Workshop August 2006. What is Best Practices?. Recover wasted resources Recover manufacturing feedstocks

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Best Practices in Single Stream Recycling Susan Kinsella & Richard Gertman

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Best practices in single stream recycling susan kinsella richard gertman

Best Practices


Single Stream Recycling

Susan Kinsella & Richard Gertman

Conservatree Environmental Planning Consultants

CRRA Conference Workshop

August 2006

What is best practices

What is Best Practices?

  • Recover wasted resources

  • Recover manufacturing feedstocks

  • Achieve

    ‘Highest and Best’ Use

  • Make sure changes work for the whole recycling system

    Best Practices Manual & Guide

Special thanks

Special Thanks

California Department of Conservation

American Forest and Paper Association

American Plastics Council

Forest Products Association of Canada

Glass Packaging Institute

Alameda County

Sonoma Co Waste Management Agency

GreenWaste Recovery, Inc.

Single stream

Single Stream

  • Has the potential to increase recycling by residents

  • Has the potential to increase supply to recycled product manufacturers

  • But it has to be done right!

Closing the loop

Closing the Loop!

  • Collect recyclables

  • Process into commodities

  • Manufacture new products

  • Purchasers buy recycled products

  • Consumers put recyclables out for collection

Best practices in single stream recycling susan kinsella richard gertman

The Collection Industry

Moved Ahead!

The Rest of Us

Are Playing Catch Up!

Implementing single stream

Implementing Single Stream

  • Savings in collection and worker injury costs

  • Higher processing costs

  • Higher cost for new collection and processing equipment

  • Higher manufacturing costs when processing not done right

  • Overall not much change, but more recyclables collected

Types of single stream programs

Types of Single Stream Programs

  • Fully automated carts, semi-automated carts, manual bins or totes

  • Collect only paper and containers

  • Collect paper only

  • Do not collect glass

  • Collect glass separately

  • Collect additional material types

Cost difference single stream vs dual stream

Cost Difference: Single Stream vs. Dual Stream

  • Collection - saves $10-20/ton

  • Processing - increases $5-15/ton

  • Paper Production - increases $5-13/ton

  • Average systemwide - increases $3/ton

    Source: American Forest & Paper Assn./Jaakko Poyry/ SERA 2004

At individual paper mills


  • 8x the yield loss at pulper (2%  16%)

  • $2 million/year to replace non-fiber materials received in paper

  • 4 times increase in annual maintenance costs to repair damage

  • Problems vary by type of paper mill

Paper mill contaminants can glass and plastic industry loss

Paper Mill ContaminantsCan, Glass and Plastic Industry Loss

Re thinking wastes

Re-Thinking Wastes

Recycling is a

Resource Management System

  • Recyclables are resources, not diverted wastes

  • Garbage is the residue of a resource based economy

Program elements

Program Elements

  • Request the services that achieve the program goals

  • Consult with recycled product manufacturers

  • Get the best price for the services requested

  • Don’t put savings before performance

    – do your police drive the Ford Focus?

Best practice

Best Practice

GOALS: conserve resources

andproduce quality manufacturing feedstocks

The economics of the system should serve, not determine, the goals

Best practice1

Best Practice

Promote your program,

early and often!

Hire a professional promotions firm, not a garbage collector

Program promotion

Program Promotion

Tell the public

  • What to Recycle

  • What not to recycle

  • How to prepare recyclables

  • Why to recycle

  • What happens to the recyclables

    Target your messages

    No one message fits all

Tell your residents

Tell your residents

  • How well the program is working

  • Truth in Advertising –

    is it really being recycled?

  • Provide ‘instant feedback’ to residents

Best practice2

Best Practice

Require processors to get feedback about materials quality from the manufacturers who buy your recyclables, and share it with your program

Best practice3

Best Practice


is not the same as


Recycling includes processing

and making new products!

Best practice4

Best Practice


is not the same as


Recycling includes making new products from the recovered materials!

Best practice5

Best Practice

  • Make sure processing system can take apart what collection put together

  • Ensure that marketed materials meet manufacturers specifications [ISRI Specs]

  • Produce quality feedstock materials to maximize revenues

Who is in charge

Who is in charge?

  • City, County, Authority or State

  • Hauler

  • Processor

  • Manufacturer

  • Resident

    Local government controls the

    curbside recycling program

It s a balancing act

It’s a Balancing Act

  • Diversion or Commodities

  • ‘Collect It All’ or

    ‘Only Marketable Materials’

  • Highly sorted or mixed

It s a balancing act1

It’s a Balancing Act

  • More Equipment or More Labor

  • Capital Cost or Operating Costs

Cart collection

Cart Collection

Higher recovery rates are from

  • Higher participation

  • Collecting more material types

  • The large wheeled cart

    Relative size of garbage carts

    and recycling carts is a factor

Convenience for whom

Convenience (for whom?)

It’s easier to:

  • Throw it all in together

  • Wheel the cart to the curb

  • Collect the cart contents

  • Promote the program

    But it’s not as easy for the

    processor or the manufacturer



  • Specify the services you want to receive

  • Specify what happens if it is not done ‘right’?

  • Offer incentives as rewards for cleaner recyclables



  • One truck or two

    for garbage and recyclables

  • Size of compartments

  • Number of Loads per day [60:40]

  • Compaction rates

  • Monitoring set-out quality

  • Mirrors and cameras



  • Driver training is essential

  • Are accountable for what is collected

  • Are the point of contact with your residents

Automated collection

Automated Collection

  • Larger container = higher recovery rate

  • Easier to store recyclables

  • Easier to get to the curb

  • Reduced worker injury & costs

  • Less litter on windy days

  • Keeps the paper dry

  • Fewer setouts increases efficiency

    Don’t wait, automate now !

What about glass

What about Glass?

  • Bottles are not the problem,

    Broken glass is!

  • Glass is broken during processing

  • Change to low-impact processing

    – separate the glass before it breaks

    • allows removal of contaminants

    • allows color sorting of bottles

Pet and hdpe


PET and HDPE recovery is higher

if all plastic containers are collected

than if only PET and HDPE are collected

Plastic bags

Plastic Bags

If you are going to collect film plastics,

ask residents to ‘bag-your-bags’

to keep them clean,

and so you can

separate them from the paper

Processing quality

Processing & Quality

  • Tons per day received v. processing equipment capacity.

  • If equipment is rated at 25 TPH,

    the optimum rate is really 20 TPH,

    but facility is probably run at 30 TPH

  • Balance higher per ton cost of sorting with added market value.

  • Don’t skimp on staffing

    Don’t overload the system !

Processing operations

Processing Operations

  • Receive only what you can separate

  • Plan on receiving materials you don’t want

  • Process in sequence to produce quality

  • Meter flow of materials to minimize process line burden depth

  • Eliminate material surges

  • Don’t make a big storage pile, it degrades recyclables

Processing variables

Processing Variables

  • Design to process the number of streams of materials your facility will receive

    - single stream and dual stream

    - residential and commercial

  • Plan for future growth

  • Prepare for seasonal population changes

  • Be ready for future changes in the markets for your recovered materials

Market focus

Market Focus

‘It’s Good Enough’

is not good enough!

Don’t sort materials

just enough to be sold!

Do sort materials into high quality

feedstocks for manufacturing!

Market compatibility

Market Compatibility

  • Types of materials collected

  • Targeted Recyclables

  • Unwanted Recyclables

  • Unwanted Wastes

  • Problem Materials



  • Sample collected materials to identify contaminants

  • Sample processed recyclables to make sure you are shipping the right material to the right buyer

  • Sample the residue to make sure you are not discarding recyclables

Contaminants residue

Contaminants & Residue

  • Minimize non-recyclable materials received

  • Design processing system to minimize degradation of recyclables

  • Minimize recyclables disposed

  • Send the right recyclables to the right market

Processing contract

Processing Contract

  • Focus on what happens to the collected materials

  • Identify processing steps taken to avoid degrading materials

  • Maintain quality of shipped product

  • Allowable residue rates should not include contaminants collected



  • To track how well the program is working

  • To know whether the program goals are being reached

5 key elements

5 Key Elements

  • Write a good contract

  • Keep residents happy

  • Recover resources for reuse

  • Allow Contractors to make a good profit

  • Maximize efficiency of the whole system

Best practices in single stream recycling susan kinsella richard gertman

Recycling is a collaborative system

and all of the pieces must fit together


‘Close the Loop’

Best practices in single stream recycling susan kinsella richard gertman

Richard GertmanEnvironmental Planning ConsultantsA Green Business

1885 The Alameda, Suite 120San Jose, CA 95126-1732408-249-0691

Best practices in single stream recycling susan kinsella richard gertman

Susan Kinsella

Executive Director

100 Second Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118 • 415-516-6526 •

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