What is “single stream recycling”? Simply put, it is a recycling process that enables homeowners to place all their recyclables into a single recycling container – creating a “single stream” – instead of having to separate paper, metal, plastics, and glass into individual streams.
First developed in the 1990s on the west coast, single stream recycling quickly grew in popularity, particularly among homeowners who hated having to sort their recyclables into separate piles and containers. Often, people didn’t know which plastics, metals, or glass could be recycled and which categories could be accepted (#2, 4, 6 or any of the other plastics? Plastic bags? Aluminum and steel?).
Fortunately, recycling technology has advanced enough to take a lot of that figuring-out away from residents. Here in Massachusetts, single stream recycling enables you to simply toss everything into one container – aluminum and steel cans; magazines, newspapers, and catalogs; junk mail; plastic bottles and other food and beverage containers, to name a few.
The advantages of single stream recycling are many, and they’re not limited to households:
- Reduced sorting effort means more residents may participate in recycling and more materials are recycled
- More paper grades are now collected, including junk mail, telephone books, cardboard, and mixed residential paper
- Reduced collection costs because single-compartment trucks are less expensive to purchase and operate, collection can be automated, and collection routes can be serviced more efficiently
- Greater fleet flexibility which enables single compartment vehicles to be used for garbage or recycling, providing greater fleet flexibility
- Worker injuries may decrease because single stream recycling often means a switch from bins to cart-based collection
- Changing to single stream provides opportunities to update the collection and processing system and add new materials to the list of recyclables accepted
If you’d like to know more about single stream recycling in Massachusetts and your town, or to see about setting up a single stream recycling program, contact the recycling experts online at Mitrano or call 978-425-6181.