Refuse and Recycling Blog

What are the Benefits of Single Stream Recycling?

Posted on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 @ 11:40 AM

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In single stream recycling, all recyclable materials like paper, glass, steel, plastic, and aluminum are mixed together in the same bin and collected by a garbage truck. Residents and garbage collectors no longer need to sort through these anymore as they will be separated for reuse by modern processing equipment at a materials recovery facility.

Also known as fully commingled recycling, single stream recycling started in California in the late 1990's. Its popularity has grown across the United States since then. At present, about 22 million people in 22 states are being served by over 100 stream recycling programs. It is no surprise considering that this system has many advantages including:

  • Convenience, as residents no longer are required to sort their recyclable trash
  • Increase in materials being recycled as residents become more willing to participate in the simplified recycling
  • Decrease in collection fees since there is less trash to dispose and because of the use of a single-compartment truck which is cheaper to buy and maintain than a double-compartment truck
  • Reduction in fuel consumption and traffic not only because trucks can be automated, but also because single-compartment trucks can accommodate more load resulting in fewer trips to the recycling center
  • More efficient garbage collection and less injuries of workers because wheeled carts used in automated collection save workers from manually lifting heavy trash bins
  • Conservation of natural resources since less raw materials are used in manufacturing new products and a greater tonnage of waste do not end up in landfills
  • Cleaner surroundings since recyclables are kept dry by hinged lids on carts thereby reducing loose material left on the streets

Single stream recycling is ideal in communities where people are not strongly motivated to recycle and also in places where there is a need for greater waste reduction.

Key takeaways

  • Single stream recycling is the collection of unsorted recyclables that will be separated for reuse by processing equipment at a recycling center.
  • It has been gaining popularity in the US since its introduction in the late 1990's.
  • There are many advantages of using single stream recycling. These benefits outweigh its disadvantages.

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Tags: single stream recycling, recycling, trash removal services