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Overview effect of Single Stream on Plastics Recycling and Recycling in General. By Tamsin Ettefagh Of Envision Plastics. First: Who is Envision Plastics?. Started in June 2001 Bought FCR and Union Carbides Plastic Recycling Plants

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overview effect of single stream on plastics recycling and recycling in general

Overview effect of Single Stream on Plastics Recycling and Recycling in General

By Tamsin Ettefagh

Of Envision Plastics

first who is envision plastics
First: Who is Envision Plastics?
  • Started in June 2001
  • Bought FCR and Union Carbides Plastic Recycling Plants
  • Upgraded and expanded the Reidsville FCR plant with integrating the Union Carbide equipment
  • Went from a low of 36 employees and 1.8 million pounds per month to 60 employees and 4.5 million pounds per month
  • Second Plant started in Chino, CA -October 2001
what does envision do
What does Envision Do?
  • We wash HDPE Bottles
  • Approximately 2,500,000 bottles each day are ground, washed, sorted and extruded into pellets each day by both Envision Plastic Plants.
the colors we see
The Colors we see
  • Envision works with over 250,000 shades of color to develop the colors we sell.
  • There may be several thousand shades of a color that makes up one color we sell month in month out.
  • Envision Sorts 45,000,000 flakes per hour
  • Which is close to a million flakes per minute
now onto single stream with a preview

Now onto Single Stream with a Preview

A Look Back

Current Trends

Residential Collection

Processing and Marketing

Single Stream

Collection and Processing Advantages and Disadvantages

Looking Forward


  • Curb Sort: Each individual recyclable was sorted at the curb into different compartments on the truck.
  • Dual Stream: Fiber was separated from containers into two different compartments on the truck.
  • Single Stream: Fiber and containers commingled together in the same recycling compartment on the truck.
a brief history
A Brief History
  • Late 1800’s - Recycler’s went through cities ringing a bell on horse drawn carriages collecting from residents paper metal and clothing.
  • 1950’s - Many cities had residential newspaper pick-ups separate from the trash. These generally faded out over 10 years.
  • Mid 1980’s - Modern curbside dual stream programs became popular
  • Early 1990’s - First single stream program began in Phoenix AZ.
  • Late 1990 - Early 2000’s single stream taking off across the country.
collection trends
Collection Trends

Recycling Bins > Recycling Carts



looking forward single stream
Looking Forward:Single Stream
  • In 1997, there were approx. 4 single stream recycling programs across the U.S. Now, there are over 95.
  • 1. Cost of collection is lower
  • Easier for the resident to recycle
  • Increases recycling rates
  • Encourages innovation in recycling equipment
  • Increases the tonnages for MRF’s to process
lower collection costs
  • 2. Ability to utilize fewer, larger containers

and collect more tons for less money

  • Less driver turnover / better attendance
  • Less driver worker compensation claims
  • Automated bin pick averages 800 to 1000 homes per day with one driver while the old dual stream system averages 400 to 600 homes per day with driver and helper
better for the resident

3. The newer wheeled containers have over 5 times the capacity and ease moving the recyclables to the curb

  • Lids keep material dry and contained
  • Convenience encourages participation
increases recycling rates
  • 4. Tonnage increases from 25 to 100% when

single stream is implemented

  • Example: City of Los Angeles (East Valley district) changed from dual stream to single stream in 1998. Net recycling tonnage went from 1900 tons per month to 4500 tons per month.
more advantages to single stream for plastics
More Advantages to “Single Stream”For Plastics

5.With effective promotion, a single Stream program:

  • Simplifies the educational message
  • Increases recovery of PET and HDPE bottles
  • Reduces non-bottle plastic contamination such

as glass, grit, and dirt.

  • New Technology has made it easier to sort multiple commodities
improved recycling equipment
  • Single stream has forced the recycling industry into new innovative sorting processes:
    • Disc Screens
    • Air classification systems
    • Trommel screens
    • Eddy-current and magnetic separators
    • Optical automated sorting is now being tested at select locations
  • Processing costs are higher
  • End products are more contaminated
what are some of single stream s weak points
What are some of Single Stream’s weak points?
  • If the education and wrong equipment are in place then the millage loss increases for the MRF and the Mill.
  • The Paper Mills state that there were 39Million pounds of Plastics sent to their paper mills that came from Single Stream What type of Plastic needs questioning?
  • The Glass cullet has increased the wear and tear on the Paper Mill’s equipment’
  • The Glass cullet from single stream has more mixed colored which in turn makes it harder to market and due to other contamination there have been weak spots in Glass’s Final product.
higher processing costs
  • All commodities are mixed together so it requires more labor to separate
  • Extra MRF space is required as sorting systems are much larger
  • Initial investment in sorting equipment is high. The newest single stream lines cost more than $2,500,000 without land, balers, and installation
paper mills and single stream
Paper Mills and Single Stream
  • Recently completed study by AF&PA states overall system wide expenses increased an average of $3/ton for paper collected in single stream programs:
    • Curbside collection costs average $15/ton less
    • Sorting costs at MRF average $10/ton more
    • Mills operating and maintenance costs increased an average of $8/ton ($50 million annually)
why consider single stream for plastics

Why Consider “Single Stream”For Plastics?

The #1 problem that plastic recyclers face is lack of raw material…(PET & HDPE bottles)

why consider single stream for plastics1
Why Consider “Single Stream” For Plastics?

A problem facing communities is that recovery rates for plastic bottles are declining despite an increase in pounds of plastics generated each year…

  • Look at the fuel cost today and what it would have cost to pick up the curbside separated vs the single stream
Why Consider All Plastic Bottles as part of Single Stream? Because 96 % of all plastic bottles are PET and HDPE!
increased in contamination
Increased in Contamination?
  • HDPE and PET bottles constitute a higher percentage of all plastic material collected
  • Percentage of non-bottle rigid plastic containers are typically decreased; e.g. films, bags, trays
so why consider single stream
So Why Consider “Single Stream”?
  • For the Consumer
  • More responsive service
  • Ability to add commodities
  • Local contacts in some cases
  • No sorting for the hauler
  • More convenient when same day as trash pick up
  • Lower cost for hauling
increased contamination at the mrf with single stream
Increased Contamination at the MRF with Single Stream?
  • Not if the program is properly launched with education and follow up.
  • Not with holding consumers accountable by leaving contaminates in the bin or Cart in the beginning
with education consider
With Education consider
  • Full training of Staff
  • Doorhangers
  • Articles and Press Releases
  • Information in the delivered bins or carts
  • Stickers on bins and carts about what is not allowed
  • Web Page
  • Follow up press releases
  • Leaving materials in bin with a check off list preprinted sticky
increased contamination at the mill with single stream
Increased Contamination at the Mill with Single Stream?
  • Not if the Mrf used the right equipment and followed up with feed back to the hauler about the contamination.
summary conclusions
Summary Conclusions:


  • Allows a simplified message
  • Can increase household participation
  • Increases capture of PET & HDPE bottles
  • Improves operating costs per ton when more pounds are processed and lowers cost to the consumer

5. Diverts more tons for recycling and less tons to the landfill