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Municipalities

Is single stream right for your town?  Ask lots of questions.

This fact sheet was designed to help YOU help your City or Town decide if single stream recycling is the best way to recycle. There are a lot of questions that you need to ask to make that important decision. Let’s take a look at why single stream recycling exists today and if it is right for you.

Collection

Solid Waste & Recycling collection companies wanted an easier and cheaper way to pickup recyclables especially in densely populated areas of Maine. Eliminating curbside sorting should reduce municipal collection costs  Here’s how it works:

But be aware of a factor unique to Maine that may make single stream recycling more expensive than your current sort- based system. Recycling materials collected in a single, non-sorted stream, require processing in material recovery facilities (MRF).  The only Maine-based MRF is in Portland and there are several others in Massachusetts.  Hauling your recycling materials longer distances for processing may increase your freight costs

WHEN SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS PROPOSED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, ASK THESE QUESTIONS:


More
recycling

Increasing collection efficiency is great but municipalities also want to increase recycling rates and divert more trash. Single stream collection usually includes a broader list of materials that can be recycled.  Coupled with the elimination of sorting, this makes recycling more attractive to the public and more people will participate.

WHEN SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS PROPOSED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

All towns are different and the results will vary. You should investigate claims of dollar savings and increased tonnages that sound too good to be true. Get more than one estimate, two to three if possible.  Investigate references.


Material Revenue

With a sort-based system, your town may be realizing a revenue stream from the sale of the recycling materials.  To do this your town must process the recycling materials into bales for shipment.  This means that your town owns and operates its own transfer station or contracts with another town or company to perform this service. There are costs to do this work.  Compare those costs and revenues with the costs and revenues under a single stream program.

WHEN SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS PROPOSED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, ASK THESE QUESTIONS:


Efficiency

One of the primary goals of switching to a single stream system is an increase in the efficiency of the recycling program

WHEN SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS PROPOSED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, ASK THESE QUESTIONS:

Your town could see a 10-20% increase in recycling tonnage with single stream recycling, BUT… Implementing a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) system could send your tonnage soaring! Single stream recycling offers a positive incentive for residents to recycle more or just plain recycle, by eliminating the sorting.  PAYT works well as a disincentive – residents pay for trash disposal while recycling is free.  The two systems complement each other and municipalities that have done both have seen much greater increases in recycling tonnages

WHEN SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS PROPOSED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, ASK THESE QUESTIONS:


Summary

The switch to single stream is the biggest change to recycling since recycling started.  It’s a big decision for any community:

WHEN SINGLE STREAM RECYCLING IS PROPOSED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS.