Single-stream recycling

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Single-stream (also known as “fully commingled” or "single-sort") recycling refers to a system in which all paper fibers, plastics, metals, and other containers are mixed in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the depositor into separate commodities (newspaper, paperboard, corrugated fiberboard, plastic, glass, etc.) and handled separately throughout the collection process. In single-stream, both the collection and processing systems are designed to handle this fully commingled mixture of recyclables, with materials being separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility (MRF).[1][2]

Single-stream recycling programs were first developed in several California communities in the 1990s. Subsequently many large and small municipalities across the United States began single-stream programs. As of 2012 there are 248 MRFs operating in the U.S.[3]


Proponents of single stream note several advantages:[4]


Potential disadvantages of single stream recycling may include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ City of Chicago, Illinois. Department of Streets and Sanitation. "What is Single Stream Recycling." Accessed 2013-12-09.
  2. ^ Montgomery County, Maryland. Division of Solid Waste Services, Rockville, MD (2010). "Comprehensive Solid Waste Management 10 Year Plan: 2009-2019." p. 3-40.
  3. ^ de Thomas, Dylan (2013-11-14). "Single Stream in the West." Presentation at Fall 2013 Meeting of Association of Oregon Recyclers, Portland, OR.
  4. ^ Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, Hartford, CT (2013-03-28). "The Facts About Single-Stream Recycling."
  5. ^ Diehl, Phil (2013-03-05). "Single-stream system increases recycling". San Diego Union-Tribune (San Diego, CA). 
  6. ^ "Sustainable Facilities Tool: Solid Waste System Overview". Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Single-Stream Recycling Generates Debate". Recycling Today. Richfield, OH: GIE Media, Inc. 2002-05-22.