SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING - DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER
Single-stream is a recycling system which lets users put different kinds of recyclables like paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass all together in one bin. This is currently the most common type of recycling system, and the one we are most familiar with. And although putting all recyclable items in one bin made things easy, there are also some major flaws with this system.
Have you ever thought about what actually happens to those materials after you put them in your recycling bin? We'll here's the process:
So what's the problem? Sorting these materials out from one another has been described as "unscrambling a scrambled egg." Although single stream recycling has made recycling easier and more convenient, the recovery rate of these materials seriously suffers. And one of our biggest problems with sorting? GLASS.
Why glass? Because it breaks. And through the collection process it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, becoming nearly impossible to separate out from the other materials on sorting lines. Manufacturers who buy recycled material from MRF's are looking for top quality only, which means little to no contamination from other materials. So what do they do with all the broken glass that's too heavily mixed in with paper, plastic, and aluminum? Label it as contaminated, and send it to the landfill.
So what can we do about this? Help to bring back source separated recycling! When paper, plastic, aluminum and glass are recycled separately, the recovery rates for these materials skyrockets! And if you're only going to choose to recycle one of these materials separately, make sure it's glass.