What Is Single Stream Recycling?

Single stream recycling is a single-sort recycling collection system. Many collection agencies in the UK and all across the United States are using this system to simplify their recycling bin collection process. Residents can place a mixture of recyclable goods into their recycling bins instead of having to separate them as in the past. All items collected will then be sorted at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for reuse. Councils across the UK are hoping that single stream recycling will encourage residents to recycle more goods.

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Which Items Are Recyclable for Single Stream Recycling?

Several items can be collected for single stream recycling such as cardboard, glass, newspaper, and plastic to name a few. Most recyclable items will have the recycle logo imprinted on the item. However, the logo may differ depending on your country. Many items that were recyclable in the past will still be recyclable in the new system. There are several additional items that will be collectable as well.

If single-stream recycling is available in your area and you would like more information on which items are recyclable or collection dates and times you can contact your nearest recycling facility for further assistance. Recycle bins will still be collected from residents kerbside along with their household waste. If you happen to fill up your recycle bins you may use clear recycle bags to place the excess recycled items in. Any questions that you may have about which types of bags to purchase for your excess recyclable items should be directed to your nearest recycling facility. You should also contact your local recycling facility to inquire about recycling or disposing of garden waste.

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What Happens at a Single Stream Recycling Facility?

The single stream recycling facility is comprised of an automated sorting system. The system uses a machine which has several conveyer belts, screens, magnets, lasers and other tools to separate the recyclable items. The magnets attracts all magnetic items and separates them, the infrared lasers scan and detect the grades of plastic and place them into bins accordingly. The screens sort out the cardboard and glass items from other items moving down the conveyer belt. Once separated the items are either sold to paper mills or other recyclers for reuse. Recycled Items which cannot be reused such as toys and shoes are transported to landfill.

How Will Single Stream Recycling Affect Residents?

There are many advantages and disadvantages of single stream recycling. One advantage is that residents can place items into one recycle bin instead of separate recycling bins for collection. Another benefit of single stream recycling is that more paper items amongst other materials would be collected including telephone books. Single stream recycling will reduce the amount of injuries that workers receive since residents would no longer use the huge recycling bins but instead a cart. Also, the new recycling system would reduce collection costs since single- compartment trucks are less expensive and cheaper to operate.

There are only a few disadvantages of implementing the new single stream recycling system. One disadvantage is the initial costs of purchasing new recycle carts or recycle bins and collection vehicles. Also, it will be quite costly to upgrade the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to accommodate the new system. The costs of processing recycled items using the single stream system will result in an increase as opposed to using the multiple stream system. 

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